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Torchwood's Flower

Chapter Text

The team was glad that the Rift was quiet for a long time. Especially since the last big incident with the death of Ed Morgan. It had been several days before, until the alarm rang out.

Jack stepped out of his office and asked Tosh, “What is it this time?”

He really hoped that it was only some non-dangerous tech that fell through the Rift.

Tosh looked at him, realizing what he was thinking. She spoke as the others came up to her desk. There was Rift activity along the waterfront, strangely right in front of the hub.

“Is it a living thing?” Owen asked, he was still exhausted from the entire mess. And slightly guilty from the last incident too.

“I think so. But I cannot be sure since there’s only people on the camera.”

And the team saw that there was indeed only people.

“Wait!” Gwen said, and pointed to a figure with black hair, who was looking around the area.

“Is it her? She’s acting like a lost person.”

The girl was looking around a little too much like she was panicking.

“I got this. Ianto, prepare some coffee please.” Jack said.

Ianto then asked, “retcon?”

Jack shook his head. He didn’t want to risk it. If this person was just a normal citizen, they completely missed what fell through the rift.

Jack stepped out of the tourist office and stepped behind the girl. He could see her almost start to panic a little too much.

“Hello. You look a little lost. Do you need help?” He asked.

Interestingly though, he saw the girl freeze. He would have laughed if it wasn’t for her facial expression when she turned around.

“No way.” She muttered. The girl began stepping back, as if to run away from Jack.

Confused, Jack just held out his hand to calm her down.

“Now there’s no need to panic. I’m a nice guy, I promise. Captain Jack-”

“Harkness” The girl finished.

That definitely caught Jack’s attention.

He stood up a little straighter, giving her a wary look.

“How do you know that?” He asked.

The girl rubbed her eyes as if in she was not believing she was really seeing the man.

“You’re not real.” She replied.

Jack gave her a confused look, and smiled a little. “No sweetheart, I’m real. All flesh and blood. If you want to find out-”

“No thanks.” She replied quickly.

Jack laughed a bit too. The girl was funny.

Then he asked her, “are you really lost, or are you stalking me?”

The girl looked confused, her mouth open, making her look like a fish. For a minute, that was all she did and then she slowly closed her mouth. It was as if she wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure if she could say it.

“Uh, I’m really lost. I was back home near Seattle, going back home, and then I found myself here. I know this is Cardiff. I could explain that a little later, but… I don’t know if I just fainted and this is all a wishful dream or not.”

Jack looked at her. Either she was lying, or she was a victim of the Rift. Another victim. He sighed, and looked at her again. She seemed fine, she wasn’t traumatized or anything. He then spoke to the team,

“get ready for a guest.”

The girl looked up in surprise. “Are you going to retcon me?!” She blurted out. She quickly covered her mouth in surprise.

Jack looked down at her, narrowing his eyes.

“How do you know about retcon?” He asked.

“I can explain that a bit.” She caught the suspicious look from the man and immediately explained.

“Ok, I know because I might be from a different universe. Unless this is a dream or if this is a horrible prank pulled on me. I can explain the details a little bit, but I’ll hand you my ID and my phone, and my-” The girl said quickly, grabbing things from her backpack and getting ready to hand them over to Jack.

He laughed again. This girl was a little too innocent. Or at least he hoped.

He just motioned her to go towards the tourist office, which she did, without asking for directions. She then proceeded to go down to the Hub as if she knew all about it. Jack was confused, hoping that the girl would be telling the truth.

“Tosh! I need you to come over for a minute. Find out if she really fell through the Rift.”

The lady came up to the girl and introduced herself.

“Hello, I’m-”

“Toshiko Sato!” The girl exclaimed. Once again, the girl covered her mouth. But Jack saw the glimpse of extreme joy in the girl’s eyes.

Toshiko looked surprised for a bit, before scanning the girl for any signs of the Rift. Sure enough, the girl was covered with the energy that came with falling through it.

Toshiko looked up at her boss and nodded.

Jack then proceeded to say, “Well, mysterious young lady, you did seem to have fallen through the Rift.”

The girl looked back at him with doubt. Jack saw that face before, the face that followed with devastation.

“Ok…. So you’re saying that you” as she pointed to Jack, “and you,” as she pointed to Tosh, “and him” as she pointed to Ianto who was bringing her coffee, “are real? Torchwood is real? The Doctor is real?”

Jack looked at the girl again in shock.

“How do you know about him?” He asked, almost angry that she knew something about the Time Lord. She may be human, but if she was a threat, he wouldn’t hesitate.

She got the hint, and gulped. She looked down at her hands and started fidgeting a bit. If the team found out the real reason, she wasn’t sure if she could deal with what followed. The responsibility that left her with.

“Uh… if I really fell through the Rift, then I’m from a parallel world. A parallel world where you guys are fictional characters from a television show.” She quickly and quietly muttered.

Tosh froze and looked at the girl.

And of all times, Gwen and Owen chose that time to come up.

“So who is our mysterious guest?” Gwen asked.

The girl looked up and saw the two. With Gwen, a look of admiration appeared. Upon looking at Owen, Jack saw a rather complicated face. He couldn’t read it since her poker face came up and a large, embarrassed smile was plastered on it. He knew that she wasn’t sure whether she should speak in front of the team when she looked at him.

“We’d better talk at my office.” Jack said, moving towards it.

They all saw the girl follow along with Ianto. He handed her the coffee he made, and she grimaced a little bit.

“Thank you Ianto.” She said and smiled again. Ianto looked surprised a little bit, but then he returned to his polite self.

“Is there a certain way you would prefer it to be?” He asked politely.

“You caught me.” She giggled.

“If it’s alright, can I get two sugars and a lot of cream please?” She asked, almost a little too excited.

If it really was an alternative universe, she would finally be able to taste the famous coffee Ianto brew.

“Of course” and he went out to fix the coffee.

“So, I heard something about us being a television show?” Jack said, grabbing the girl’s attention.

“Yeah… about that, I can prove it if you want. I can give facts about you that they don’t know.” She told him as she pointed towards the team.

“Why should I believe you?” He asked.

The girl blushed as she pulled out a lanyard that had “Torchwood” and “Doctor Who” written over it.

Jack looked up at her in shock. He then nodded for her to proceed.

“You are originally from the 51st century, you lost two years of your memory while working at the Time Agency. After that, all I know is that another person from the Agency is John Hart, and that you became a con man. Or at least was until you ran into Rose and the Doctor’s 9th incarnation during World War II. Then Rose became the Bad Wolf and she gave you your immortality because she couldn’t control her powers. Since then, you tried finding the Doctor, but your Vortex Manipulator gave out and you were stuck on Earth for over a hundred years.”

Jack looked at her impressed. “Ok, so is “Doctor Who” referring to the Doctor?” He asked.

The girl nodded. “I didn’t watch the episodes for his first seven incarnations. I know all their faces, their clothes, their mannerisms, but I wasn’t able to get the full thing. Considering that the show started during the 1960s. I really only watched from his eighth incarnation. And even then, I don’t know all of the eighth incarnation’s story. It was still in the process of being published anyway.”

She replied.

“Ok, then ID them for me.” He said and pulled out their faces.

The girl noticed that the 11th incarnation and the 12th incarnation, along with the War Doctor, were missing.

She then pointed them out, in correct order, named the actors’ names too, along with the year they played the role. Who their main companions were.

Although she did stop at Rose, Mickey, and Jack.

She looked up at the immortal man once she reached him. He noticed that she knew more than she spoke.

“You know his future? And ours?” He asked.

“Only the ones that aired. I don’t know what happens between the big stuff that they air. You know, like you see a TV show, and suddenly in the next episode, 5 days have passed? It’s kinda like that.” She said.

“So, I believe you. I really do. But I still don’t have your name.” He said, as Ianto came in with the coffee.

She then smiled brightly and replied,

“Iris Kim. I’m 22-years-old, worked for a video game company for computer graphics, and other techy stuff. Female, obviously, uh….” She then looked up at Jack to see what else he needed.

The face she had was so innocent and lost that Jack laughed. She became very confused.

“So Iris, you came from a parallel universe through the rift, and know about our lives, and our potential futures?” He asked.

Iris nodded in reply.

Jack then leaned back into the chair and thought for a moment, then decided.

“How would you like to work here?” He asked her.

Iris almost spit the coffee that was in her mouth out of shock. She looked at Jack as if he was serious. The fangirl in her was screaming in joy, but the more, calm side of her was turning wheels, thinking about all the dangers. Eventually the fangirl won over, and she nodded enthusiastically.

“Yes please!” She said with joy.

Jack laughed a little. But then he stopped when she became a little too serious.

“When is this?”

“Excuse me?” He asked in response. He wasn’t sure what Iris was asking.

“What was the last big case you guys had?” She asked specifically.

“Ed Morgan, a tech that let’s you see-”

“Ghosts.” She muttered out loud.

Jack looked at her, and asked. “You know what happens after this don’t you?”

She looked at him with a pained smile, “I know a lot that happens after this. It does stop at a certain point, so surely, one day, if I’m still here, I might run into a dead end of foresight and eventually be as clueless as all of you.” She said quietly. She looked at the team with a wistful look.

Jack hoped that nothing too bad happened.

“Look, Iris, don’t tell the team too much. Just tell them that we were fictional legends or something alright?”

“Like Robin Hood?” She asked while smirking. She knew he wouldn’t get the reference, but she was trying her best not to laugh out loud.

“Yeah, something like that.” Jack replied.

“Time to give you a tour!” He said and reached out for her hand.

She retracted a little bit from that.

“No touching me.” She said while smirking and ran out the office excitedly.

“Fine.” He said, raising his hands as if surrendering to her.

After the tour, Iris was given a new ID, official job at Torchwood as another Technologist, replacing what Suzie had left behind, and a room in the Hub to sleep in until she was able to find enough money and a flat to live in.

Iris grimaced at the fact that she had to stay in the Hub. She really did not want to get stuck here while Jack was in the hub a lot of the time. Nobody saw the wary look Ianto flashed while he passed by the team to go wash Iris’s coffee cup. Her eyes trailed after his walking figure, knowing what was coming up. Once everything was settled and a lot of them left for the drinks, Iris was setting up her sleeping spot when she could not take the curiosity anymore and decided to go to her new desk.

That was when she saw Ianto and a Japanese man go in the direction where Lisa would be.

She sighed, knowing the presence of the cyber-woman in the Hub. She decided to follow Ianto and the man. Iris really hated the episode that took place, and felt terrible for Ianto’s loss. If anything, she would help him a little bit, share the blame.

Chapter Text

Iris went down to the store room, distantly following Ianto. One side of her brain was telling her to avoid all this. But another said to just follow and help Ianto. For all she knew, Iris had always had a soft spot for Ianto and Toshiko.

She then heard the door unlock and Ianto speak to the man. When she got a little bit closer, her heart broke at the sight of Lisa. The woman was restrained onto the frame and Ianto’s eyes reflected pained love. It really hurt Iris that Ianto suffered through this alone.

“I did all I could. I really did.” Ianto said.

The doctor the said, “My God. It’s not possible. One of them survived.”

Iris saw Ianto kiss Lisa and introduce her to the doctor. The two men were so focused on the Cyberwoman that they did not notice Iris standing there by the door. She also saw Ianto think back to the event when he dragged Lisa away from the collapsing building of the old Torchwood. Knowing what happened and what would happen, Iris felt conflicted as she watched the encounter. She had just gotten herself a job at Torchwood, and betraying Jack from the start was probably not the best way to do it. But as she watched Ianto, she could not ignore the pain his eyes seem to show. That’s when she heard Tanizaki start talking again,

“Some elements have been augmented. Some are still human. Sensory capacity, for instance. Her breathing and hearing appears completely cybernetic. And yet there’s also bare flesh.” He said as his hands roamed around the Cyberwoman. Iris saw Ianto tense as the man continued his study. Considering that this was enough, Iris walked into the room and said,

“You’d better stop right there Tanizaki.”

Ianto jumped in shock and looked at Iris. The Japanese man on the other hand studied Iris for a moment and asked Ianto,

“I thought nobody else knew about this meeting?”

“Nobody. Or at least, when I set up a meeting.” Ianto replied.

Iris noticed the guilt in his eyes. She nodded her head towards the door, asking Ianto to follow.

“Look, Iris, I know what this looks like-” Ianto started to explain, but Iris interrupted him gently as possible.

“I don’t need you to explain to me what this is about Ianto. I already know what this is, who she is to you, and why you’re doing this. I can’t stop you from doing anything. This was your choice. I’m just letting you know that this can’t continue on forever without letting the team know.”

Ianto’s head hung low, as if he was ashamed.

“I don’t know what else I could possibly do Iris. I love her.” He said. He then looked up to see Iris, only to see her sadly smile at him.

“I know. Ianto, you don’t have to go through this alone. Sooner or later, they’re going to find out, but I’ll help you in any way I can. But one day, this has to stop. I don’t know how much of Lisa there really is, but the cybernetic impulses might have changed her overall humanity.” She said.

Iris really hated saying this. She hated the scenario. For all she knew, she really would rather have come later in the Torchwood series if she had the choice. But she was here, in the Hub, choosing to help Ianto.

Ianto looked at Iris in disbelief. This girl clearly knew all the risks in dealing with cybermen, yet she chose to help him. His heart felt relieved, but also pained at her words. He really did not like deceiving his team members in Torchwood three, and it seemed like the girl knew it too.

“Thank you.” He said.

Iris smiled and then nudged him to go back to Lisa. She climbed back to the main area of the Hub and sat down onto the sofa. She let out a big sigh. If she could do anything to make this situation better, she would. But with the risks of changing pivotal events and ripping apart time and space seemed a risky move. She wasn’t sure what she could possibly do with what she knew about the future events in both Torchwood and that of the Doctor. For all she knew, The Year that Never Was did not even happen yet. Iris rubbed her face with her hands in frustration. What could she possibly tell Jack? All those people that he loved, the team cared for, how would she able to deal with them when she already knew what happened to them?

That was when Ianto and Tanizaki came back with Lisa into the autopsy area. Iris stood up and quietly watched the screen on her computer to look out for the team. After a while, Iris heard Lisa gasp for air and Ianto’s threat towards the man. Iris then called out to Ianto,

“Ianto! You have to move her back NOW! They’re almost on their way.”

Ianto looked up at Iris and started to help Lisa go back to the bottom of the hub. Iris began cleaning up the autopsy area as quickly as she could, knowing that the team could come in at any moment.

“Shoot!” She said in frustration, finding herself in pajamas.

Iris realized that she couldn’t change fast enough, so she just decided to act like she never fell asleep due to stress. Which really wasn’t a lie at this point. She was stressed about the life that was going to take over anyway.

That was when she heard the door open and Jack told Tosh,

“Tosh, call up the radar within a fifty mile radius of the Bay for the last six hours. Gwen, check with that man. Neil, I think his name was, voice like Sean Conner, at Jodrell Bank. See if they picked up any chatter around the time of the sightings. Owen, access the airspace provision over Cardigan Bay. Also any RAF flight plans. See if it’s just a case of mistaken identity.”

That was when the captain noticed Iris.

“Well, you seem to be wide awake. Couldn’t sleep alone?” He commented as he smirked.

Iris nervously smiled, saying “I can’t fall asleep because I’m stressed. Not because I’m alone.”

Jack’s smile wavered a little. She could see that he was remembering that it was technically less than 24 hours for Iris since she arrived in this universe. He wordlessly looked at her and then went to his office.

Iris grew restless until the lights suddenly flickered. She swore in her mind and didn’t know what to do. Gwen asked,

“What’s happening?”

“Internal power drain.” Tosh replied.

Then the computers rebooted as Gwen asked, “What’s causing it?”

Jack then joined into the conversation, coming in their general direction, saying,

“Something big to drain that amount of power. Tosh, run a system diagnostic.” He then proceeded to look at Iris.

He met eye contact with Iris and saw her pained look. The silent question was heard and she nodded and looked away. Jack personally did not understand what it felt like to know the future of other people’s lives, but it seemed to be stressing the girl out.

Ianto then lied, which hurt Iris even more.

“Actually, we’ve been having generator problems all evening. I was down there checking earlier. Couple of bits of cabling have come loose. I thought I’d fixed it. Let me have another look.”

Jack said, “Fine. Go check.”

Gwen asked if he needed any help, and Iris intervened.

“I’m good with machines and tech. I used to do this back at my house. Can’t be too different. I’ll go help.”

Ianto looked at Iris, then replied, “I think I’ll be fine with Iris.”

They then proceeded to go down. Iris was bracing herself to witness a gruesome scene.

Ianto then froze and muttered, “Oh, God. Oh my God. What happened?”

Iris was barely breathing calmly as she saw the man’s bloody body on the floor, with a cybernetic eye in one of his eye sockets.

“Ianto-” she began when Lisa spoke.

“His upgrade failed.”

Iris’s heart broke. Hearing the entire conversation between Ianto and the part-human Lisa.

“Was it an accident? Tell me you didn’t do this.” He pleaded.

“I wanted to repay him for helping me by removing the weakness of his humanity.” Lisa replied.

Iris tensed up. She wanted to intervene, argue with the woman, but that would do no good. Lisa was probably holding her humanity only because the love for Ianto was still there. If she interfered, she would not know what would happen to her. For all she knew, she wasn’t even trained in using weapons except for sword work and sufficient with martial arts. She was pretty much useless in technological fights.

“What have you done? You’ve killed an innocent man.” Ianto said in despair.

“It’s alright.” Lisa said, as if to console her lover.

“It’s not alright! They’re gonna come looking for me and Iris in a minute. If they see the body, if they find out what we’ve been doing-” panic started to kick in for Ianto.

“I can deal with them” Lisa replied.

That angered Ianto, and Iris tried to pull him back, but the man pushed her back. “Don’t you go near them. You didn’t mean to do this. Something’s happened to your mind. Just, er, some kind of side effect from this whole process. It’s post-traumatic. You didn’t mean to. You’ve ruined everything now! How hard have we had to work to keep you alive? And now you do this. I need you to stay in here. Rest. Don’t come out unless I tell you. This can’t happen again, Lisa. If you harm anyone else, I’ll-”

“Yes, what will you do?” Lisa asked.

“I’ll kill you.” Iris replied quietly.

Ianto turned around in shock towards the new team member. But something in him couldn’t speak against Iris’s reply to Lisa. Iris looked at him, as if challenging him to argue with her.

“Iri-”

“Ianto,” Iris interrupted, “if you can look me in the eye and say that you can kill her yourself. Say it.”

Ianto looked at her with growing despair. Iris knew. She knew. Anger seemed to settle in when it deflated at the sight of Iris trembling. Her eyes were sad too. She was scared. She just arrived from another universe, never able to go home, and she was here, helping him.

He turned back around and said,

“Okay, the body. I’ve got to deal with the body. I can do this.” He started to cry silently.

Iris turned around and waited by the door, letting Ianto solve this on his own.

“This is my fault. I’m responsible for this. I’ll hid the body. Everything’s gonna be okay.”

Hearing Ianto blame himself hurt Iris even more. When Ianto left to deal with the corpse, Iris headed back to the Hub, unable to bear the fact that Lisa was already too far gone.

When she went back up, she heard Jack say,

“Ianto, we’ve got another dose of darkness. You found anything? Ianto, I need to hear those beautiful Welsh vowels.”

Iris tensed up. She wasn’t sure if she could continue with knowing what would happen and see it play out.

Tosh then spoke up, saying “Power’s draining to the storeroom at the bottom of the building. Looking for human heat signals. We’ve got-”

“Three signals?” Owen asked, confused.

Tosh replied, “So assuming one’s Ianto, who’s the other two?”

“One’s me.” Iris answered.

The team immediately looked at the new member.

“What?” Jack asked as he went towards Iris.

He then noticed how stressed she looked.

“Iris? What happened?” He asked.

Iris shed a tear and looked at Jack, unable to say anything. Jack then realized, the knowledge of the event, an episode that she watched, she knew what was going to happen, and it wasn’t good.

He then gained his resolve and said, “I’m thinking we’re under attack. Security’s been breached. We assume battle protocols.”

Iris looked at the floor, finding that more interesting and calming than the entire situation happening around her.

Tosh then said, “But that’s impossible. Nobody can get in without triggering seven separate alarms.”

Jack replied, “Yeah? Well, looks like our system needs to be upgraded.” As he handed out weapons.

Iris looked at the gun and shook her head.

“Iris, you need to still have one.” Jack said as he handed her the gun.

Iris looked at it with disgust and looked up at the 51st century man.

“I don’t know how to use one. Jack, I know what’s going on. I’ll just tell you. Just please, don’t be reckless just yet.”

 

Jack pondered over it and then asked, Owen to go down and find Ianto. Gwen followed.

“So, what is it?” Jack asked.

Iris breathed in and out heavily before she spoke up.

“Cyberwoman.”

Jack tensed and warned Owen. She heard Owen swear as they became more cautious about finding out what was going on.

“How?” Jack asked.

Iris went silent for a bit. That was when the comms seemed to stop working.

Soon, Jack muttered, “If I don’t hear something within thirty seconds, I’m coming down there… Any sign of Ianto?”

That was when he noticed Iris’s eyes crunch up in sadness and stress.

His heart broke when he realized what that implied. It was Ianto. He had brought the Cyberwoman in.

“Jack, promise me something.” Iris said to Jack. The man nodded and Iris continued,

“Promise me to not hurt Ianto. He suffered enough. He worked in Torchwood before, the woman down there was his girlfriend. Then the Battle at Canary Wharf hit, and you could probably guess the rest. Just promise me that.”

Jack looked at Iris, realizing that she might have helped the Welsh man a little bit since she came here. And nodded.

“I want you two back up here immediately.” He said after hearing Owen talk about the Cyber conversion unit.

Jack, Tosh, and Iris then heard the chaos from the other end.

Iris immediately ran down with Jack. They enter the room and Jack immediately orders the Cyberwoman,

“Throw down any weapons, put your hands up and turn and face me.”

When Lisa does as he says, he freezes for a minute and says, “You’re not fully converted.”

Gwen screams the mens’ names, to grab their attention, but Iris is the first to react and shut the machine down by asking Tosh.

“Tosh! Shut down the power everywhere!”

“I do that, the base goes into lockdown. We’ll be trapped Iris!”

“I know that! Just do it!” Iris semi-yelled in panic, trying to help Gwen as much as she could.

Then Ianto ran into the room and prevented Jack from shooting Lisa as Iris managed to get Gwen out of the conversion unit.

“She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” Ianto yells.

“You are fighting the wrong guy.” Jack growls back at the Welsh man.

After the entire fiasco, they go to the basement. All save for Tosh, who remains in the Hub.

“Get us back to the Hub” Jack said tensely and pointed his gun at Ianto.

“Jack!” Iris yelled, and pushed the immortal man.

Iris looked at him, reminding him of the promise.

“Jack, what are you doing?” Gwen asked carefully.

“Resisting the urge to shoot.” Jack muttered and put his gun back in its place, but still pushed Ianto towards the Hub.

Chapter Text

“She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” Ianto yells.

“You are fighting the wrong guy.” Jack growls back at the Welsh man.

After the entire fiasco, they go to the basement. All save for Tosh, who remains in the Hub.

“Get us back to the Hub” Jack said tensely and pointed his gun at Ianto.

“Jack!” Iris yelled, and pushed the immortal man.

Iris looked at him, reminding him of the promise.

“Jack, what are you doing?” Gwen asked carefully.

“Resisting the urge to shoot.” Jack muttered and put his gun back in its place, but still pushed Ianto towards the Hub.

 

The group arrived back at the Hub, and Jack yelled,

“Tosh! Get everything from the weapons room. Fast as you can!”

Tosh gave a slightly annoyed look, and replied, “It’s locked down. There’s no manual override.”

And to that, Jack slowly began to grow impatient and said,

“Just open the store!”

He then gripped Ianto’s shoulders tighter as he followed it up with,

“On your knees.”

“Jack.” Iris quietly said, taking hold of the man’s arm. The two looked at each other, silently battling over who was going to back down, and Iris acquiesced. She saw the warning in Jack’s eyes. He was really unhappy with her.

“Hands above your head.” He said, as Ianto kneeled in front of him.

Jack then pointed his gun at Ianto’s head. Iris grew upset at the following events. Sure, she knew what was happening, but seeing the shattered trust Jack’s face reflected hurt even more.

“Jack, for God’s sake, what are you doing?” Tosh said, looking at Jack with shock. She then looked to Iris, who was only able to shake her head. The Torchwood technician could tell that Iris knew about the situation and that she was unable to do anything. Not against Jack anyway.

“Tosh! I gave you an order! Gwen, help her.” Jack yelled. His anger was continuing to rise at the events that were taking place. His mind was racing, trying to come up with several reasons, but all rationale was disappearing when he had seen the Cyberwoman himself. Even if Iris had warned him and made him promise, he wasn’t sure if he could keep it.

The two women left the Hub and Jack began his investigation. Gwen had looked at Iris, wanting to stay, but Tosh dragged her away. But not long after, the two came back, curiosity getting the better of them.

“Did you know that thing was down there?” Jack asked.

“I put her there.” Ianto said, barely keeping calm.

“You hid a Cyberman within Torchwood, and you didn’t tell us?” Jack asked, almost not believing what he just had heard.

“What else are you keeping from us?” Jack asked further.

But that seemed to have nudged Ianto to become bitter again, as he replied looking right at Jack,

“Like you care. Like any of you care except for Iris. I clean up your shit. No questions asked and that’s the way you like it. When did you last ask me anything about my life?”

Ianto then continued talking as Jack lowered his gun. He took a glimpse at Iris, who had fallen silent. In reality, Iris’s mind was swarming with what would happen, and her heart broke at the same time as she knew what Ianto was going to say.

“Her name’s Lisa. She’s my girlfriend.”

Gwen interrupted by saying, “Why didn’t you tell us? We could have helped you.”

“Torchwood exists to destroy alien threats. Why would I tell you about her?” Ianto replied calmly again.

Iris and Ianto met eyes. Ianto seemed to be asking if everything would be alright, and Iris looked away, unable to answer that question for him.

 “A little loyalty, perhaps?” Owen said, finally joining in on the conversation.

“My loyalty’s to her. She worked for Torchwood. She was caught up in battle. I owe it to Lisa, We owe it to her to find a cure.” Ianto replied, as tears fell down his face.

Jack’s anger went down upon hearing Ianto. He then replied,

“Ianto, you have to believe me. There is no cure. There never will be. Those who are converted stay that way. Your girlfriend will not be the exception.”

Ianto then spoke up, almost panicking at Jack’s words.

“You can’t know that for sure.”

With that Ianto looked at Iris again, looking for answers. All Iris could manage out of her mouth was,

“Ianto…I…. I’m sorry.”

Jack then spoke again, trying to reason with Ianto’s emotional state.

“Look, you need to know what’s happening here because this is where these things start. Small decisions that become mass slaughter. These creatures regain a foothold by exploiting human weakness. Then they take a base, rebuild their forces, and before you know it, the cyber race is spreading out across the universe, erasing worlds, assimilating populations, all because of the tiny beginnings here.”

Jack backed up, upon feeling Iris’s hand on his shoulder. He looked at her, and nodded. Iris then crouched down bringing Ianto’s hands down and holding them with both of hers. She looked at the man, and softly said,

“Ianto. I’m sorry, but we need to stop her. Together. Otherwise, things will escalate and innocents will be killed.”

Ianto looked even more devastated as he slowly stood up, making eye contact with the team, and said,

“You’re not listening to me. Everyone here except for Iris. The conversion was never completed.”

Jack stepped up again, only stopping because Iris stood between them, her hands on his chest, stopping him from getting any closer.

“She already tried to kill Gwen. You think she’s going to stop there? There is no turning back for her now.”

Ianto spat back, “I’m not giving up on her.”

The last three words that came out of Ianto shattered Iris’s heart all over again.

“I love her.”

Iris looked up at Ianto, still leaving one hand on Jack, just in case.

“Can you understand that, Jack? Haven’t you ever loved anyone?” Ianto asked.

Iris then slowly gripped Jack’s hand, telling him to stay calm. But there was another thing she wanted to say too. That she knew the answer to the question. That Jack, more than anybody else, loved and lost people. In that context anyway. As she was thinking this, she then felt Jack’s hand squeeze hers back, almost painfully. She didn’t complain, understanding that the question had opened something painful in Jack’s memory, as his hand began shaking too. But the 51st century man remained calm, as he said,

“You need to figure out whose side you’re on here, because if you don’t know, you’re not going to make it out of this alive.”

With that, Jack turned around and let go of Iris’s hand as he walked away from the Welsh man.

Iris felt the blood flow back in her hand as they all stood there while Owen said,

“There’s no way this weapons store is going to open.”

Tosh added, “It’s going to take six hours for the power to come back on-line.”

Ianto, then desperate to grab at straws, said, “Let me talk to her. I can still save her, save all of us. She’s not a monster.”

Iris then spoke up quietly, “I don’t think Lisa is a monster Ianto.”

But the entire team could see how Iris wasn’t looking at Ianto. As if she was feeling guilty about everything that was going on around her.

Then they all heard the metallic sound of Lisa approach and turned around. Iris found herself right behind Ianto, a little too close to the Cyberwoman for her own comfort. Until she felt two hands slowly try to make her step away. She looked back slowly, to find that Jack was the one responsible for grabbing her. They met eye contact, and she let him bring her closer to the team.

Ianto then walked towards Lisa. Gwen tried to stop him, yelling “Ianto!” but Jack and Iris stopped her from going.

“Lisa.” Ianto called to the Cyberwoman. The part-cyberman turned her head to face her former lover.

“It’s me.” He spoke softly, hoping that Lisa would recognize him.

“You can’t just let him go…” said Gwen. But Iris grabbed onto her again.

That was when Lisa spoke up, her voice sounding like a cyberman’s.

“The army will be rebuilt from here. This building is suitable.”

“Who are you?” Jack asked.

She replied with, “Human .2”

“No!” Ianto said, approaching Lisa.

“Lisa!” He said, even stepping closer.

“So how come you look like Human .1?” Jack asked.

“I do not understand.” Lisa replied.

“Look at yourself. Go ahead.” Jack told the Cyberwoman.

 Ianto then proceeded with, “Remember, Lisa. Remember who you are.”

Then the Cyberwoman spoke again, “The upgrade is incomplete.”

Ianto then told her, “You’re still human.”

The Cyberwoman seemed to be battling with Lisa’s humanity, as it said,

“I am…disgusting.”

Iris wasn’t sure who said that first, but knew what followed after, whispering,

“Jack”

The man looked back at Iris, who signaled the man and the team to brace themselves. With that, Iris crept closer to Ianto as Jack reached for his gun.

“I have…I am…wrong.” Continued the Cyberwoman.

Iris held Ianto back from approaching Lisa. He struggled as he said, “We can help you.”

That was when the Cyberwoman spoke again, saying “I must start again. Upgrade properly.”

“For God’s sake, have you heard yourself? Lisa, please.” Ianto said as Iris finally could pull him back even further when he almost lost strength in his legs upon hearing the statement.

“I brought you here to heal you so we could be together.”

The Cyberwoman then looked back at Ianto, studying him for a second before replying with,

“Together. Yes. Transplant my brain into your body. The two of us together, fused. We’ll be one complete person. Isn’t that what love is?”

“No.” Iris replied before Ianto. She let Ianto go, and stepped in front of him, hearing the rest of the team scuffle forward anxiously.

Iris then replied to the Cyberwoman further.

“That’s not what love is, Lisa. Somewhere in there, inside your memories, there should be emotions to be together, but not as one, fused person, but two separate people, living their lives together. Going through pain together. Supporting each other. Laughing, crying, fighting each other. But the two people who will be together just like that as long as they can.”

The Cyberwoman’s eyes seemed to falter, just a little bit, before turning cold again, as she spoke, looking back at Ianto.

“Then we are not compatible.”

Iris pushed Ianto back, but as she did that, she felt the Cyberwoman turn her around and grab onto her throat and toss her onto the ground.

Blackness engulfed her world as she lost consciousness. But before the world turned black, she heard gunshots, knowing that Jack shot from his gun.

Taking one last glance at Iris’s limp body, Jack shouted,

“Code nine maneuvers! Go!” and the team jumped into action, including Ianto, who felt his heart break into million pieces, mourning the loss of Lisa.

“Wait! Gwen, get out of there!” Jack yelled.

But Gwen froze on spot, unable to do anything. Owen took the Cyberwoman’s attention from Gwen by shouting,

“Lsia! What are you waiting for?”

With that, he ran as the Cyberwoman chased after the medic. In that moment, Jack took Gwen and they moved.

Lisa then spoke, “Run. We all ran.” Referring to the battle in which she was partially converted.

Then Tosh saw Iris’s body still limp at the Hub, telling Jack,

“Jack! Iris is still down there!”

Jack remained silent. He couldn’t risk anybody up here. Not even for Iris. The team then planned a way to get the power back up while fighting the Cyberwoman. Ianto remained silent, but agreed to do his part. The Welsh man found himself taking quick glances towards Iris’s unconscious body. She tried to help him. Take part of the blame. He knew that Jack might scold her severely later for all that happened. And he realized that if Iris hadn’t pushed him away, it would have been him, Lisa threw to the ground and rendered unconscious. He felt worried for the young girl. It had not even been 24 hours since she arrived to this universe and she was already knocked out from a Cyberwoman. And all because of him.

Iris, slowly regained consciousness. But it seemed like a slow progress. At first, she ached all over, but she found that she couldn’t move. Next, she realized that she could hear the chaos that was ensuing around her. All she could do was just listen and wait for her body to be able to function properly. That was when she heard someone wince in pain and shuffle near her. Then she suddenly felt that person lift her up and drag them away from the cold surface she was on and take her head and put it near their body. She then realized that it was Jack. She heard him mutter her name softly and slap her face a few times urgently. She then felt Jack’s mouth on her lips as air flowed into her mouth. If she was awake, she probably would have slapped him off of her right away, but considering that her body was still not listening to her, she could not do anything but let him do what he did.

She then felt a shift in Jack as the contact between their lips stayed a little longer then something she wished for. And then she groaned mentally as she realized that Jack shifted from giving her air to full-on kissing her. Great, now what was she going to do? Then she felt her muscles twitch a little and she gasped for air. Her eyes finally opened, to find Jack’s face above hers. At that short moment, she felt glad that the power in the Hub was still off. She was sure that her face would have blushed to bright red from the kissing.

“Shhh!” Jack indicated, and Iris nodded, closing her mouth as she swallowed the saliva in her mouth. Hoping that Jack didn’t do anything more than just lip contact.

Ianto then ran back into the Hub when heard a cybernetic scream. Iris looked up, still in Jack’s grasp, seeing the entire scenario unfold, feeling helpless. He muscles were still aching from the rough fall she had. Jack helped her up slowly, worried that Iris might have broken a bone. Thankfully, she hadn’t fractured or broken anything.

Iris and Jack approached Owen, Ianto and Gwen, seeing Gwen and Owen converse. Probably about the kiss they had inside one of the chambers they hid in.

Ianto was holding Lisa, when Iris and Jack heard Owen say,

“It was kill or be killed.”

“Owen’s right. There was no choice.” Gwen replied back. Iris groaned a little when her legs slightly gave out. Jack stopped her fall, since he was still holding onto her as her support.

“You ok?” Jack asked.

“No. Not really.” Iris replied, looking back at Jack.

He gave her a worried look.

“My muscles are crying out in pain, but other than that, I’m physically fine. It’s just… I can’t help but think that this is my fault. I knew this would happen… but I didn’t know it would be so soon. And I can’t help but think that I could have prevented this.” Iris replied.

Jack looked at her for a moment, and said, “Let’s talk about this later. And for the record, this isn’t your fault. Yeah, I’m pissed you didn’t tell me, but like you said, you didn’t know when it would exactly happen, and telling us could have changed things drastically. But let’s think that bit through a little later, ok?”

Iris nodded, as she stood back up with the man’s help. That’s when they heard Ianto gasp and back away, along with Owen and Gwen. They looked up to see that Lisa was conscious again.

“Ianto, move. Get out. Get out, I said! Move! Move!” Gwen yelled.

Jack then lifted Iris up ran across the Hub, and set her down in a relatively hidden place. He then held his gun and walked towards the Cyberwoman.

“Stay here.” He whispered to her. He saw her nod, and quiet her breathing to the best of her abilities.

“You should be dead.” Owen said, seeing Iris in hiding. He could tell that Iris was still in pain. He hoped that she wasn’t suffering from a concussion any time soon.

“I’m the stubborn type.” Jack said a little lightheartedly, bringing Owen’s attention back to him, shaking his head. They couldn’t let the Cyberwoman know that Iris was now an easy target.

“Get behind me.” He said as he lit the torch and proceeded to get his weapon ready.

 “That’s right. Stay back. This’ll at least give you a heartburn.” Jack said, taunting the Cyberwoman a little bit.

“The power will run out. I can wait.” Lisa replied back.

“Jack, help her. Give her a chance to surrender.” Ianto said, desperate to give Lisa whatever chance she had left.

“Have you not seen what she’s done?” Owen said, implying about all the events, but especially Iris.

“Let her stay in the cells. We can help reverse the process.” Ianto yelled.

But nobody saw Iris sneak off, crawling away from all of the chaos and towards the area where she knew the pizza girl would be arriving. Throughout the entire way, she winced in pain, stopping every other moment to breathe a little bit before forcing herself to continue moving. Not only did she want to see the entire thing happen, but she needed to prevent the girl from wandering in by mistake and meet the awful fate.  

The team above was trying to hold Ianto back, when Tosh noticed that one person was gone.

“Jack, where’s Iris?” Tosh asked.

Gwen and Owen looked around them in shock. They had left her behind all alone. She had nobody to rely on while injured.

“Jack!” Owen said, approaching his boss, but Tosh proceeded to talk. She felt relieved about the system she had set up.

“Listen, when I was at reception, I managed to trip the lockdown timer. The power should be coming back on any second. We could get back in.”

That was the moment when all of them saw Ianto run towards the tourist office entrance. They began to chase after him.

Iris, on the other hand, had already arrived at the entrance the lady would come in. She heard the woman say,

“Pizza.”

She opened the door, standing a little bit straighter to hid any indication of pain, and smiled.

“Thank you so much!” She said, as she handed the woman the money.

“Thank you for the food and have a good night!” She further continued, and shut the door on the girl, locking it. If the team were headed this way, they would have the key.

With that, she set the pizza down and went to go find a good hiding place for herself.

The team entered the tourist office and found themselves facing an Ianto with a gun pointed at them. After arguing with the Welsh man, they tried calming down, only to find pizza and change left on the main table of the tourist office.

“Who left pizza here? And why is there change?” Gwen asked.

They all looked at each other before seeing the blood splatter on the ground.

“Iris…” Owen said. He had seen a little bit of blood when he had seen Iris hiding.

The team then looked panicked and entered the Hub.

“Iris!!!” They started yelling. But they couldn’t find her where she was supposed to be, before hearing a scream that froze them on the spot.

It was Iris. Moments earlier, Iris managed to hide, but the Cyberwoman must have seen the blood marks on the ground, as Lisa began dragging Iris. Iris fought against the Cyberwoman to the best of her abilities, trying to earn time so that the team could enter in. But she was still weak and feeling faint, which eventually led to her being dragged to the room below. She screamed out loud again, but they had already entered the room.

“No!!!!” She screamed, but Lisa only muttered,

“I can finally be free of this pain and be with Ianto.”

Iris froze at that, then she quickly thought of what to say.

“Lisa, please listen to me!” She yelled, hoping that the team could hear her. She then heard several footsteps that seemed to be running.

The Cyberwoman looked at her, willing her to talk.

“This isn’t what Ianto would want. This isn’t the right way to go about things Lisa!”

“But I could be with him as long as I can. Human. Just like you described.” Lisa replied.

Iris shook her head, trying to bring logic back, “But not as me.” Iris replied.

Lisa looked at Iris, trying to see if Ianto would really hate her if she continued to do this. To transplant her brain into this girl’s body. But she had no time to lose, and Lisa began to restrain Iris into the conversion unit. Iris struggled, screaming again, when a gunshot rang and Lisa gasped.

“Ianto,” Lisa whispered.

“”Lisa, please…stop this. This isn’t you.” Ianto whimpered.

The team then rushed in, helping to free Lisa from the conversion unit. But Iris paid attention to what was happening now.

“But I could be human again. For you. You fought so hard for me, I had to hold on for you so I brought this body and was going to transplant the brain.” Lisa said back. She almost sounded sad.

Ianto kept his gun aimed towards Lisa.

“This isn’t what Lisa would do. Lisa is kind. This isn’t what she is like.” He said, as tears flowed from his eyes.

“You always said you didn’t love me for what I looked like. Last time you said that, it was a Saturday. We were hungover. You made cheese toasties and moaned I hadn’t descaled my kettle.”

After hearing that, Ianto began to waver his hold on the gun, tears freely flowing now. His face scrunching in devastation. He had panicked when he saw Iris tied to the conversion unit, but upon seeing Lisa, he wasn’t sure what to do.

“That night we camped on a beach in Brittany. It got so freezing, we wore our coats and shared one sleeping bag. When we woke up the next morning, a dog was pissing on our tent. Let me do this, Ianto. I need you to let me become human again. I need you to tell me it’s all right.” Lisa said.

Ianto then fell into tears, unable to keep his aim straight. He took a glance at Iris, who looked at him as if saying, that it was his choice. That she would respect it. Ianto then took every bit of his inner strength and pointed his gun at Lisa’s head.

“What are you doing? Ianto, it’s me. You wouldn’t shoot me. I was going to do this for you.” Lisa said.

“I’m sorry.” Ianto said to Lisa, but he couldn’t bring himself to shoot Lisa.

“We can be upgraded together.” Lisa finally said. Iris froze, looking up, hoping that Lisa wouldn’t turn the conversion unit on again.

Then a gun shot rang loud, hurting Iris’s ears, but clearly killed Lisa. The Torchwood team excluding Ianto and Iris fired at Lisa. With that, the Cyberwoman fell onto the ground. Ianto looked at Iris with guilt, and could only hold his former lover’s body in utter despair.

Iris got back to the Hub, having Owen help mend her wounds. With that, she was on the sofa, unable to sleep from the recent events that took place. She had talked to Jack, about the incident, and they had discussed that she would minimize telling anyone about the cases that she knew. They had both come to a conclusion that these events had fixed points in time, and needed to take place.

Ianto came up to her and said,

“I’m so sorry. I did this…and you got hurt…”

Iris grabbed his hand, and then patted him to sit down for a bit.

“Ianto, I got hurt because I chose to. It’s not your fault. If anything, this is mine. I did things to make myself this way, so don’t feel guilty about that. Yeah, it was wrong to keep Lisa a secret from them, but I don’t blame you. I don’t understand it, because I never felt that love, but I know for a fact that you cared that much. And let me tell you this, Ianto. If you need me to help you with anything, let me know. Alright? Even if it’s talking about any random, idiotic things.”

“Thank you.” Ianto said, almost shocked at how Iris was just letting him off the hook.

“If you think I’m letting you off the hook, I’m not. But you have to pay me back with food and good coffee and telling me anything that grabbed your interest throughout the day. Everyday. Got that?” Iris said, smirking just a little bit.

Ianto nodded, grateful for the help Iris was offering. He would make it up to her. The one person who cared for him when he felt lost to the world.

Chapter Text

Once the incident with Lisa was over, Iris had been put into intensive training after she finished healing from her wounds. Owen was especially insistent that she finish healing before she got any proper training done. She was down in the gun range with Jack.

“No way, I will not be shooting at anything.” Iris said to the Captain.

Jack just looked at her, knowing that the girl already knew the reason as to why he was still making her learn. Iris glared at him for while, and when she knew Jack would not step down, she let out an exasperated sigh.

“Fine…” She said as she went to him and then picked up a gun, giving him her best intimidating look. He showed her how to use the gun, which, surprisingly, she was good at considering that she never had learned how to use the weapon.

“You’re good. But here,” he said, and stepped behind Iris, holding the gun.

Iris then immediately had a flashback to when Jack had done this for Gwen. She stepped forward a little bit, feeling a bit nervous and uncomfortable with the situation. Considering that she knew what would happen between Jack and Ianto, this was not what she wanted to be experiencing herself. But Jack did not take any of that as he stepped forward with her, pressing his body against hers to help her with the aim.

Iris felt her heartrate increase, and it felt like her heart would explode. She was so nervous that she wasn’t sure what would happen. When he backed out, she let out a sigh of relief. Her aim obviously worsened when Jack had been right behind her like that. She heard him chuckle a little bit, as if he was satisfied with making her so nervous. But she gulped in even more nervousness when she saw Jack pull up the mats for hand-to-hand combat.

Jack saw her eyes widen and smirked. He saw Iris’s eyes narrow again when she realized what he was indicating. Sighing, she took her shoes and socks off, getting ready to spar him. It was still tough for Iris to move around so much with the healing injuries, but she managed and had to thank her former tae kwon do years since childhood. It helped her to use her knowledge of pressure points against her enemies, though Owen hated experiencing it first-hand. But when she got distracted thinking about how funny it was to see Owen whine like a baby about the pressure points, Jack swiped her feet, causing her to crash hard into the mat.

Surprised, Iris looked up only to see Jack’s face right above hers. Her breath hitched and she stopped breathing from the shock and the mere closeness of Jack’s face. She gulped, waiting for Jack to get off of her. She just looked up at him like a deer looking at headlights. At this point, Iris was sure she was blushing bright red.

Jack smirked ever so slightly looking at Iris, who was blushing like madly. He suddenly had an idea, and said,

“Was this ever on your show on Torchwood?”

Iris vigorously shook her head. Jack chuckled and slowly got up, making sure to rub his body on hers in a certain way. He swore he heard her squeak a little. He then just lay down next to her on the mat, tired from the workout.

 “Finally…” she said, sitting onto the mat in exhaustion. She proceeded to chug down the water from the water bottle when Jack sat up next to her. Iris drank the water furiously, feeling entirely embarrassed and panicked from the entire experience. She couldn’t help but feel a little lightheaded from the encounter, and a tad bit disappointed it didn’t go further. That’s when she tensed and continued to drink more water, trying to erase all that thought from her head. She was not supposed to fall in love with Jack. That wasn’t how this was supposed to work.

“What, you don’t like hanging out with me?” Jack asked, smirking. Iris’s reaction to the entire teasing was adorable.

Iris slapped his arm, causing the man to rub it in pain.

“What?” he asked, genuinely confused as to why she was hitting him.

“I’m still not happy with you.” She said, mainly thinking about how Jack had kissed her.

She didn’t particularly hate it, but she didn’t necessarily ask for that to happen either. Jack sighed and the two just sat there. When she told him about that, he had felt a little bit guilty. But even he didn’t know why he had done that. He didn’t even know Iris that well, and something in him just impulsively started kissing her at the moment. He shook that though away and just tried to think about work.

 Nobody was to come back to the Hub for a while since the last incident. And as Iris did not have enough money to get a flat for herself and the two couldn’t sleep, they decided to help Iris speed up the process of her physical training. But what was really going on in Iris’s mind was just the next episode of Torchwood.

Jack distracted her thoughts about the episode when he tapped her shoulder. Iris looked at the man in confusion when she saw him extend his hand for her to help her up. She took it and pushed her weight to her feet to stand up.

“Does it hurt still?” Jack asked Iris.

Iris realized that since she had arrived to the parallel universe, she has had migraines. She wasn’t just sure how severe these were, but it hurt a lot. Iris was hoping that there was some type of explanation, but taking medications for the migraines helped. Ianto had been stocking up on them for her.

Jack noticed how close Ianto and Iris had been. As if Ianto relied on Iris to live through each day. The Welsh man was improving greatly, and Jack noticed how familiar Ianto’s behavior was. It reflected a past version of himself on Earth. Iris had pointed that out especially for him, telling him that there was nothing that could have potentially been done after Lisa had killed the Japanese doctor.

Iris nodded, while still drinking the water. She noticed Jack frown. All Iris wanted was an explanation for the migraines, but Owen had no idea either, so she decided that the best way to deal with the migraine was to just wait for the Doctor. She believed that there may be a connection between the Time Lord and her arrival to the parallel world. But she wasn’t sure just how exactly there could be a connection at all. Sighing, she began to step towards the room she was provided with while she stayed.

She was honestly grateful that Jack had let her join Torchwood, and had not reacted as terribly with the entire cyberman incident, but she was still worried about the next episode. The entire incident with Estelle and all. Iris knew how much Jack cared for the woman, and if she felt anything, she just felt motivated to keep Estelle alive somehow, whatever the means.

But days ticked by, the rest of the members came back for work, and all seemed fine. It was weeks, when one night, Iris couldn’t sleep and woke up to head for the kitchen when she hears rustling in the Hub. Ianto had arrived.

“Hey…” she said upon seeing him.

“Hello.” He responded while smiling at her.

They had been getting closer and closer, and if anything, Iris was happy to see that Ianto was her friend. He had opened up to her after the incident and they had been able to help each other out with whatever they needed the other person for.

When Ianto headed for his desk, Iris followed, the glass of water utterly forgotten. She tensed when she saw Jack climb out of the hole that led to his room in his office. Her mind raced as she recognized this, and hoped that whatever Ianto was looking for was not strange weather patterns.

But fate seemed to be cruel towards Iris, because it was exactly, what the Welsh man was looking for.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Jack said in a light tone.

He was saying it to both of them, indicating that it was way too early in the morning for either of them to be working.

“Neither should you.” Ianto said, guilt still taking over his voice.

“What ya guys got?” Jack asked, leaning to see the computer screen that the two were looking at.

“Funny sort of weather patterns.” Ianto replied.

Jack looked up to see why Iris was so quiet. He noticed how quiet of a person she normally was, but was a little surprised to see her facial expressions were extremely tense.

“Iris? We should talk.” Jack said, and headed for his office.

Iris followed after Jack. Once she closed the door behind them, Iris looked at Jack, who had sat down in his chair with a concerned look in his eyes as he took out the flower petal that was all too familiar to both people.

“Do you know what this is?” Jack asked.

Iris nodded and then proceeded to tell him what she remembered about the creatures. She thought about just how much she was able to change in this episode. Especially Estelle, Iris wanted to save her badly. The woman had done nothing wrong, and Iris was set on saving her.

Jack on the other hand, hoped that this event would not lead to more painful situations. The team was just coming back after all. And in truth, he had missed them when they all had taken a break from the incident with Lisa. He noticed how Iris was looking at him, as if she was worried. He chuckled and told her,

“You can go now. I’ll be fine.”

Iris nodded, when she asked him before exiting his office,

“If Estelle calls, will you let me meet her?” She asked.

Jack nodded, and Iris left.

It felt funny that Iris knew his former lover. Honestly put, he still loved her, but not in the same way as many years before. He was deeply thinking about what could happen when he got the phone call. It was Estelle. He sighed and called Iris over. They were going to go meet Estelle.

Hours later, when Iris and Jack arrived at the theatre, they both heard Estelle talking to her audience,

“I suppose I’m one of the fortunate few who’s been allowed to see our little friends. And it’s been no easy task. One needs to have the patience of a saint and the blind faith of a prophet. But for me, the long wait has been worthwhile.”

Estelle then showed the next slide, finishing her talk. When the audience were giving her a round of appluse, Jack said,

“Wrong. She always gets it wrong.”

He looked at Iris, only to see her shake her head ever so gently. It was as if Iris was thinking about something very complicated. The duo then went to Estelle, to whom Jack asked,

“Estelle, when did you take these?”

“A couple of nights ago.” Estelle responded.

“Where?” He asked, wanting something a little bit more specific than that.

“In Roundstone Wood.” She clarified for the young man who looked like her former lover.

“So not that far from here.” Iris said, trying to fill in Gwen’s lines, since the woman was not really here.

Estelle then took a better look at Iris, noticing that she spoke in an American accent too. She then hugged Jack a little bit, saying,

“So good to see you again, Jack. Oh look, there’s the wood.”

“What’s wrong?” Iris asked, even though she knew quite well what was wrong.

“Oh, Jack and I have always disagreed about fairies. I only see the good ones. He only ever sees the bad.”

“They’re all bad.” Jack said in reply to Estelle’s statement.

“No, I refuse to believe that.” Estelle said, a little annoyed with Jack’s comment.

Iris stayed silent on the matter.

“Do you have any more photos?”  Jack further asked.

“Yes, at home.” Estelle replied.

“Right, I need to see them all.” Jack said. With that, they all headed for Estelle’s place.

Once they were at her home, Iris and Jack brought Estelle’s projector and screen inside, which Estelle thanked them for.

“Oh, thank you Jack, Iris. This is Moses.” She said, indicating the black cat with the white bib.

“Hello Moses.” Iris said quietly.

Iris wasn’t fond of cats, but animals tended to make her feel comfortable. So she loved interacting with them. She saw Estelle hand Jack a folder, proceeding to say,

“They’re mostly just pictures of the area. Come on, my darling, it’s quite time you went outside isn’t it?”

She then proceeded to pick Moses up and take him to the garden.

Iris then looked at the photographs on the mantelpiece and smiled.

“This is you isn’t it?”

Jack looked at her and then saw that she was looking at the photos fondly. He smiled a little and nodded, though he said out loud, “Sorry. No, that’s my dad. He and Estelle were quite an item once upon a time. They were inseparable.”

Iris looked at him and set the picture back down and went towards the garden with Jack.

“Estelle, when you next see these creatures you call us immediately, understand?” Jack said.

“Mmm hmm…” Estelle said calmly.

“Night or day, it doesn’t matter, just call us. And be careful, it’s important to me.” He continued.

“But Jack, I’ve nothing to worry about.” Estelle argued.

Iris thought it best to interrupt the two, trying to see if she could change things a little from the television show without hurting the timelines too much.

“Actually Estelle, I have questions regarding about fairies and stuff. And since Jack is worried about you, would it be ok if I stayed for at least tonight and make sure that everything is alright? Jack told me stories about the fairies he knows, and I think my presence here will lessen his worries a bit.”

Estelle looked at her strangely, but nodded, looking towards Jack to see what he thought. Jack looked at Iris a little in surprise, and then nodded himself. He wasn’t sure what Iris was up to, but it was true that her being there with Estelle would greatly help.

“Just be careful. Please.” He said, to both of them.

“Don’t worry, I will be here with Estelle all the time. I’m just hoping that she doesn’t kick me out because I am too eager about this.” Iris said with a joke.

With that, Jack immediately headed towards the Hub, while Estelle showed Iris in again.

“So what is it that you were curious about?” Estelle said as both of them went in.

“Oh! Look at me… where are my manners? Would you like some tea or coffee?” Estelle asked.

“Coffee would be lovely. Thank you so much.” Iris replied. And then she glanced at the garden and said,

“Could I look at your garden?” She asked.

Estelle looked at her warmly and said that she could. Iris then headed out and looked at the flowers when she had the funny feeling of being watched. She was walking around the garden cautiously when she suddenly felt dizzy and almost lost her footing.

She grabbed onto the fence and then gathered her breaths, not quite sure about what had happened. Estelle called for her and Iris immediately straightened herself out and smiled, not wanting to worry the woman.

Jack, Tosh and Gwen came out of the custody suite looking alarmed. Jack was relieved that Iris had decided to stay with Estelle. For one thing, he was not happy at the following events. He called Iris to make sure they were ok.

“Hello?” Iris answered the phone.

“Iris, you ok?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, we’re ok. Estelle is showing me her collections, and blimey, there’s a lot. But we’re doing fine. I’m still on the lookout just in case. I’ll let you know if something happens, alright?” Iris replied.

Jack thanked her and ended the phone call as they headed back to the Hub.

Back in Estelle’s home, Estelle was placing candles and rock crystals on a table, explaining to Iris what each of them meant. Inside Iris’s mind though, she knew that the event was close to happening and she was thinking of ways to prevent Estelle’s death, when Estelle murmured,

“Quartzite. The searching stone. Oh, let the energies flow. Help me find them again.”

That’s when both women heard wings. Estelle got up from her seat when Iris stopped her and made her sit back down.

“I’ll go check it. Phone Jack, and hide. Whatever happens to me, don’t come out. Got it Estelle? You must not come out. This deals with your safety and my job is to protect you from whatever it is. I will go to find you if it’s safe, so don’t worry about that.”

Estelle nodded and proceeded to go hide while fumbling to call Jack. She wasn’t sure how Iris had the courage to face whatever it could be.

In the meantime, Iris headed towards the kitchen window, feeling a small pressure in her mind making her dizzy again. That’s when she saw the pair of eyes look at her from the shrubbery before something broke through the glass. Iris quickly ducked and tried to make sure to make herself more obvious so the creatures wouldn’t head for Estelle.

Iris heard Estelle finally get in contact with Jack when she heard the woman say,

“Jack, it’s me, Estelle.”

A pause, and then she continued.

“You were right Jack. There are bad ones. They’ve come here, and Iris went to look for them. I just heard glass breaking and I don’t know what happened. Iris told me to hide, so I’m hiding, but I don’t know if Iris is ok.”

Another pause, and Iris heard Estelle say yes and lose the connection. But Iris heard Moses yowling outside and hesitated. But after a second, she opened the door carefully and called for Moses quietly so Estelle wouldn’t hear her. She didn’t want to risk the woman from coming out of her hiding spot.

But when she stepped out, the door closed behind her and Iris swore.

“Shit!” She said as she quickly ran for the door but couldn’t open it.

“Where’s the sonic screwdriver when you need one?!” Iris muttered in frustration. But that’s when she felt very light headed.

She lost footing again like earlier in the day, and then heard the wings.

“Why do you protect the woman?” she heard a voice speak.

Iris froze and said, “Because she’s an innocent. She doesn’t know anything. If anything, she’s my responsibility. So if you came here to harm her, I beg of you..” She said as she slowly turned around,

“I beg of you to leave her alone. You can use me. I don’t mind, but don’t harm her.”

“Interesting, a former Chosen One is begging us to let a woman go.” The voice said.

Iris froze again at hearing that.

“What? What did you say? A Chosen One?”

“Yes, you could have been the Chosen One, but you’re too old now. That is why you feel so dizzy when we are near. Because you didn’t become one of us. So, we will grant your wish and leave the woman unharmed.”

 And with that, blackness overwhelmed Iris.

Estelle heard Iris swear and a slamming of a door. She heard the girl fighting, but then silence followed. She trembled as fear overwhelmed her, that’s when she heard Jack’s voice as he entered her home.

“Estelle? Estelle! Estelle!”

“I’m here!” She said, and with that Jack came to her room and found her hiding in her closet.

“Oh, you’re safe….” Jack muttered and hugged her.

However, Estelle quickly came out of the hug and told Jack,

“Jack, you have to go to the garden and see if Iris is safe. I don’t know what it was, but it sounded like she was struggling against something.”

She saw panic rise in Jack’s features as he hurriedly got up and went to the garden with couple other people. Owen was already there in the garden, looking for Iris, when he found her.

“JACK!” He yelled, as he hurriedly went over to Iris’s unconscious body.

He checked for a pulse, and sighed with relief a little bit when he found a faint pulse. He then quickly began applying CPR. From the looks of it, Iris was soaked to the core and appeared as if she had drowned. Her skin was super pale from the cool air the night had been providing.

Jack came to see Owen over Iris’s limp body. He noticed how the rest of the ground was dry while Iris was wet. He waited for Iris to come back. He was hoping for her to come back. If she hadn’t been there with Estelle, he wasn’t sure what might have happened. But when a minute passed, she still wasn’t back.

“Come on….” Owen muttered, but Jack took his place in providing CPR.

Owen sat down on the ground, looking at his watch. He took her pulse, and it was getting better, but Iris wasn’t waking up.

Suddenly, Iris gasped and her eyes opened as she coughed up the water in her system. She turned to the side as water continued coming up.

“Urgh…” was all she could manage as she lay back down on her back.

Both Jack and Owen took in a breath and sighed from relief. Estelle was there too, holding a hand on her heart. She was scared that the girl might have died. Iris’s eyes wandered, and since her vision didn’t come back to focus, she asked weakly,

“Estelle? What…happened to her?” She could tell that Jack was looking down at her, holding her body.

“She’s safe.” He said quietly as Iris’s eyes closed when she heard the news.

“That’s good.” She whispered and she fell asleep from physical exhaustion.

Jack kissed her forehead, and lifted the girl’s body. The team then went back to the SUV and Owen immediately assessed Iris’s conditions. She was hooked to an IV just in case, and they all waited for her to wake up.

When Iris did wake up, Jack helped her up, and found that the team wanted to ask her questions.

“Did you see them?” Jack gently asked.

Iris shook her head. She only told them what she did know.

“I’m not sure, but I heard a fluttering of wings. And…oh… I saw a pair of eyes. That was the only thing I really saw. Otherwise, everything was a blur. I remember that each time I heard the wings though, I felt super dizzy and I couldn’t stand up….”

That caused Owen to look at her medical charts again.

“But you’re fine now.”

Iris looked at him weirdly, and then said,

“But I felt dizzy whenever I almost came in contact with them. That must mean something doesn’t it?”

Then something seemed to click and Iris jolted upright, making her muscles complain. Jack held her hand and helped her to lie back down.

“Jack, they said something to me. That might explain the dizzy feeling.” Iris said, looking at her boss.

“What? What was it?” He asked, wanting to know more.

“They said that I was formerly a Chosen One. But I don’t have any recollections of the thing. Nothing happened as a kid. So I… oh…”

Iris stopped as she felt dizzy again. Jack looked at her worriedly when the girl grasped her head. Owen looked alarm as he looked at the readings.

“Iris, look at me! You have to focus on me. Stay awake.” Owen said in alarm.

But Iris eventually closed her eyes, unable to keep them open as the overwhelming dizziness hit her and made her unconscious.

Chapter Text

Iris stopped as she felt dizzy again. Jack looked at her worriedly when the girl grasped her head. Owen looked alarmed as he looked at the readings.

“Iris, look at me! You have to focus on me. Stay awake.” Owen said in alarm.

But Iris eventually closed her eyes, unable to keep them open as the overwhelming dizziness hit her and made her unconscious.

~~ …….. ~~

 

“What’s happening to her Owen?” Jack asked, not exactly sure what was happening.

Owen quickly checked her readings again, only to frown.

“I don’t… exactly…know…” he said as he made sure he was looking at the readings correctly.

“What the hell do you mean?” Jack asked the medic, and Owen turned to him in annoyance and curiosity at the same time.

“Earlier, I panicked because her brain seemed to be failing. Then all of a sudden, it just stabilized all at once and now she’s just sleeping. There’s nothing wrong with her. It was as if she was going to die, but then she changed her mind and didn’t go through with it.” Owen said.

“But that doesn’t happen to humans.” Jack said in reply.

Owen merely shrugged and stuck an IV to Iris, hoping that she would remain stable.

“Look, I don’t know what happened, but I’ll just stay here overnight to check on her status. Let’s just get this fairy business over with as quickly as possible.” Owen said.

Jack nodded, and before he headed back to his office, he glanced at Iris’s peaceful sleeping face. Something about her saving Estelle struck a chord with him. Estelle told him that she had asked the creatures to take her instead of Estelle, and it seemed that Iris was doing it on purpose. But he didn’t know that Iris had changed the timelines, nothing to harm the universe, but enough to just protect the members of Torchwood to the best of her abilities.

The night went by peacefully with nothing bad happening. Iris remained stable the entire night and when she woke up, she was surprised to see Owen by her bed.

“Owen?” She asked, and the medic looked up from his crossword puzzle.

“Ah, you’re awake.” He said, and semi-threw his crossword puzzle book down to the plastic seat and checked her vitals among other things.

“Well you seem fine. Can you get up?” Owen asked, as he took the IV out of Iris.

She nodded and got up, stretching her body a little before showing Owen that she was fully functional.

“I don’t want you to engage in combat, but you can go out to the field as long as you are in the sidelines.” Owen said.

Iris hugged Owen, which shocked the man a lot, as nobody in Torchwood has really “hugged” him in a friendly way. With that, she headed towards Jack’s office, greeting and hugging other Torchwood members on her way when the man came out from the room.

“You ok?” Jack asked when he saw Iris.

“Yeah, I think so.” Iris said, and shrugged.

Jack frowned a little. She should be more worried about herself, but she seemed to be waving it off as a minimal issue when she had almost died. It still hadn’t been that long since she came to this universe, and she seemed to be alright. Almost too much to be true. But that thought was quickly forgotten when he thought back on the case, and said,

“I want a check on all unexplained deaths in the area.”

Tosh followed it up with, “What’s the weather forecast for today?”

Ianto replied with, “Long sunny spells.”

Tosh frowned at her computer screens and said, “It’s happening again” while stealing a glimpse at Iris, who seemed to be fine as of now.

The entire team headed out to the school in the SUV. Once the interview with the teacher was over, they headed towards Jasmine’s home. During their trip, Iris felt slightly dizzy, but didn’t mention it in fear of Owen stopping her from doing anything that she planned to do. When they finally arrived at the place, they found mayhem as the guests of the party were running around in fear and the creatures wreaking chaos.

“Go. Go. Go home. Get out. Come on.” Jack said, leading the guests to leave the garden.

A creature crashed into the stepfather called Roy, and Iris felt torn. She looked at Ianto, who saw her conflicted look. He merely indicated that he would handle it, and ran towards Roy while Iris ran to the forest that Jasmine had already gone to.

“Jasmine!” Iris yelled, calling after the girl.

Behind her, she heard the mother cry out in disbelief that her lover had died, breaking Iris’s heart at what she was about to do. She then heard Jack and Gwen call after her and Jasmine, trying to catch up to them.

As Iris paused to look around in search of Jasmine, the girl popped out from behind a tree and said to her,

“Do you know you’re walking in a forest? Well, you are. It looks like a very old forest, and it’s magical. I want to stay in it.”

And then Iris realized as she froze in shock. She was seeing what Jasmine was. That was when she heard Jack and Gwen arrive and the man say,

“You can see this forest?”

Jasmine looked at Iris with curiosity, pointed to her and said, “Yes. I think we both can. The woman and me.”

Jack turned Iris over to face him, and saw her nod her head a little.

“But it’s not here. It’s just an illusion, Jasmine. It is. Your friends are just playing a game with you The real forest can never come back.”

Jasmine shook her head and replied with, “Oh, it can. When they take me to it.”

Gwen then asked, “They told you this? But what about your mother? Don’t you want to stay with her?”

Iris gripped Jack’s arm tightly and they all saw the creatures appear in the trees. But for Iris, it was hazy between the creepy looking creatures she had seen from the show, and beautiful girls that looked around Jasmine’s age. She began to feel slightly dizzy again, and Jack seemed to notice as he slung his arm over her shoulders to support her.

“Come on. This child isn’t sure.” He said.

Jasmine felt annoyed at the man and said, “I AM sure.”

Gwen pulled Jasmine to her when the girl struggled against the Torchwood agent.

Jack looked up at the creatures  and yelled, “Leave her alone. Find another Chosen One. And stop whatever you’re doing to Iris. It’s hurting her.”

Voices came through and stated, “Too late. She belongs with us. And for the other one, that is not from our doing.”

Iris tensed and looked up at the creatures in shock and confusion. If it wasn’t them, then what was causing her body to weaken so dramatically? Jack was having the same thought in his own mind when Gwen replied to the voices with,

“The child belongs here. With her mother.”

Then the voices said, “No. She lives forever.”

Jack looked down at Iris to see her eyes glazed over. The creatures claimed that it wasn’t them, but it clearly looked like Iris was taken over by something.

Gwen then continued the conversation with,

“Suppose we make her stay with us?”

Jasmine replied with, “Then lots more people will die.”

Iris looked at Jasmine with heartbroken eyes, and gently left Jack’s support to kneel in front of the girl.

“Did they tell you that?” Iris asked Jasmine genuinely.

Jasmine replied, “They promised…”

“Come away, oh human child.” The voices rang through the woods.

 The little girl continued with, “Next time, they’ll kill everyone at my school, like they killed Roy, and that man, and…you.”

Gwen was about to speak, but Jack stopped her, letting Iris talk with the girl. Since Iris related to the creatures and Jasmine with her former supposed existence as a Chosen One, she might be able to get through with the girls.

Iris stared at Jasmine’s eyes silently, searching for any hint of something that would tie her down in this reality as a human. But the girl’s resolve unwavered, and Iris merely sighed. She decided to ask verbally to make sure.

“Will you not miss your mother?” She asked.

Jasmine merely rolled her eyes at Iris and said, “no.”

Jack looked down at Iris, seeing that she was asking him to let the girl go with the creatures. Jack hesitated, before nodding.

“The child won’t be harmed?” He asked.

Jasmine’s eyes lit up, and then noticed how Iris looked at her. There seemed to be a rush of emotions going through the lady, and there was only one thing that stuck out to her: understanding. She understood that Jasmine had nothing left to cling onto. The only thing she wanted was her friends that had protected her. And Iris knew.

But Gwen was shocked at what Iris and Jack seemed to be implying as she yelled angrily, “Jack! Iris, you can’t!”

Jack merely asked again, “Answer me! She won’t be harmed.”

The voices replied with, “We told you. She lives forever.”

Jasmine then threatened all of them, asking, “A dead world, is that what you want?”

Jack almost scoffed as he asked, “What good is that to you? There will be no more Chosen Ones.”

The they all heard Jasmine’s voice overlap with the ones coming from the creatures, “They’ll find us, back in time.”

Giving in, Jack whispered, “Take her.”

“Jack, no!” Gwen said, making her boss face her. But she clearly saw the sadness in the man’s eyes.

Jasmine then said, “Thank you.”

And before she could skip further into the woods, Iris called her.

“Jasmine.”

The girl turned around calmly. She didn’t hate this woman. She was intrigued by her.

“Be happy. Be kind. And lastly, don’t hurt anyone. Even if not for me, for yourself.”

Jasmine thought over it, and realized what she was saying. Don’t be like the people who hurt her. Don’t cause other people sadness. To make others happy instead of sad.

Jasmine hugged Iris, which shocked the lady greatly as she froze a bit before gently hugging her back. After a minute, Jasmine nodded, smiled, and pranced away.

The mother came running over with Owen and Tosh and Ianto to see the girl disappear.

Jack then could only mutter, “I’m so sorry.”

Iris merely stayed silent as she felt the disbelief flowing off from Gwen. She was still kneeling, still feeling dizzy from the entire encounter, and slowly stood up, her legs trembling from lack of energy. She almost fell back down, when Ianto stopped her fall and supported her back up.

Iris looked up at Ianto, who looked at her with understanding, and helped her back to the car. The other remaining Torchwood agents gave Iris and Jack the cold shoulder for what happened as they drove back to the Hub.

Jack let the team go early. Ianto in the meanwhile, handed Iris her coffee, deciding to stay.

Iris was sitting at the sofa, just looking down at her coffee, unsure of what to say. But she was surprised when Ianto gently put a blanket around her shoulders and legs, and then gently put her head onto his shoulder. He noticed how Iris was deathly silent, while Jack seemed to try to argue his way to justify their decisions.

Meanwhile, Iris gently sipped at her coffee, feeling the warmth and greatly appreciating Ianto’s presence there. She really needed it. Jack had left the Hub, to god knew where, probably getting drunk, so she would have been alone if Ianto had left earlier. But being with him, it comforted her greatly. But she also felt guilt. A tremendous guilt that, to Ianto, seemed unjustified.

“Aren’t you going to ask why I let her leave?” Iris asked.

“Nope. I think that if Jasmine had a reason to stay, she would have decided to stay. But she clearly didn’t like her life so far, and as a kid, thought it would be better to leave.” Ianto said.

Iris fell quiet again, before explaining to Ianto what she knew.

“You’re right. When I looked at her eyes, she clearly knew her answer. Not even her mom held her back nor did it make her hesitate. If anything, it made Jasmine more adamant about leaving. But then again, her life sucked.”

“In what way?” Ianto asked gently, wrapping his arm around Iris’s shoulders when he noticed her shiver a little.

He felt her get closer to him a little before responding with, “Her stepfather was a horrible man, always stating horrible comments about Jasmine, and then the girl was bullied in school. It’s a wretched life to be living as a child. I’m just happy that she had other means to be happy. Even if that meant she chose to no longer be human.”

Ianto looked at her when he felt her tremble this time.

“Iris? What’s wrong?”

Iris looked at Ianto a little bit, but shook her head. “Spoilers.” She said.

Ianto realized that Iris was feeling stressed about something related to the team’s future. The entire team had been told to not pursue Iris with more questions upon hearing that word, as it would influence their future. But then, he decided to ask her the hard question.

“Is it tough to know what will happen to us? To not be able to change much about the events, even though you probably can?” He asked.

Iris froze. She had trembled earlier because she knew that the case in the countryside was coming up, and that episode had terrified her just by watching it. She then nodded all the while still leaning onto Ianto.

But even the Torchwood archivist couldn’t fathom the terror that ran through Iris everyday as she dreaded the end of the season. The plans she set up to change certain things, and the moment when she would finally meet the Doctor.

Eventually, Ianto left to clean up their cups, and Iris headed to her room, and got her diary.

She plopped back down onto the sofa, wrapping herself in the blankets again and wrote what she changed in this case. She also began to write her plans for future cases. Especially for her own sanity, and to be prepared when they finally happened.

Because if she did not do this now, she wasn’t quite sure what she could deal with. That was when she heard her computer beep, indicating a potential rift activity. She walked over to the screen. Ianto was walking back inside when he stopped upon seeing her face.

She was deathly pale as she stared at the location of the signal. And with trembling fingers, she closed out, not wanting to look back at it. Ianto began to worry, and when Iris faced him, he saw her truly tremble in fear, as she slowly asked him to call in the Torchwood team.

Chapter Text

Ianto sneaked a worried glance towards Iris. He remembered how pale her complexion was when she first saw the little blip on her computer. When Jack had returned, he was, luckily for the team, not drunk. Though the Tosh, Owen, and Gwen were still unhappy with Jack and Iris, they still listened in on the information and decided to let it go.

Meanwhile, Iris remembered back on her discussion with Jack. Once the team debriefing was over, she and Jack talked separately while the rest of the team packed for the countryside.

"So, I'm guessing that you know what this case is about then." Jack said as he sat down in his chair.

Iris nodded. Jack noticed her fingers fidgeting, a nervous tick of hers that he had found out from the past few small missions that she was not aware of. When they had taken her to her first weevil hunting, she had displayed this habit of hers. But when she remained silent and looked like she was holding back from telling him about the entire case, Jack said,

"How bad?"

"I was terrified by the episode. It… if I…" Iris began to mutter as she looked up at Jack.

He saw the desperation in her eyes, and he shook his head.

"No. We agreed to not change the major plot line Iris." He said.

Iris shed a tear, which shocked Jack. He hadn't seen her cry, and if she cried now because of this case, it must have really terrified her when she watched this as a show. He got up and hugged her to help her calm down. He realized that she was trembling and breathing ragged breaths to stop herself from breaking down. He rubbed her back while trepidation was settling in for him too.

Iris wanted to beg Jack back then to let her tell him the details, that it didn't need to be them to find out about it. That all they needed to do was inform the police that the neighborhood was killing people for cannibalism. But she also knew in one part of her that it would have changed the plot line entirely for the entire team. And as she sat down next to the team who had graciously accepted her as a friend, she felt tremendous guilt for what they would experience in the next 24 hours.

That was when Owen muttered,

"I hate the countryside. It's dirty, it's unhygienic, and what is that smell?"

"That would be grass." Gwen said as she rolled her eyes.

"It's disgusting." He said in pure hatred.

Ianto noticed Iris looked down, as if she wanted to curl up into a ball at that moment. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, trying to help her in whatever way that he could.

They finally stepped out of the Range Rover when the team saw the food truck.

Jack was briefing the team since Iris did not look like she could cope with the case at the moment. He hadn't seen her this shaken before, and it worried him. He couldn't help notice how she looked like she would fall apart at any moment, but he also noticed how close Ianto was to Iris. And he felt conflicted. He wasn't sure what he was feeling, but he ignored it. He needed to get the case done and over with.

"Seventeen disappearances within the last five months. The police are clueless."

Owen then made a snarky comment clearly to insult Gwen,

"Now there's a surprise. No offence, PC Cooper."

The entire team ignored the insult and Jack continued with, "The last known whereabouts of each one is somewhere around here."

"All within a twenty-mile radius." Tosh commented.

"Anything else linking them?" She asked, looking at Iris for answers.

Sure, she wasn't happy about the last case they had, but she was hoping that Iris had some answers or hints. But she couldn't come to ask her directly as the girl looked not only tired, but terrified of something. It hurt her heart that the girl looked so old and tired compared to everybody else despite being the youngest of the team.

Her attention was brought back to the debrief when Jack cleared his throat and said,

"We don't know that much about it to be certain. And it's increasing in activity all the time."

"Oh, come on. Aliens aren't gonna bother hanging around out here. Probably some sort of weird suicide club with people choosing the same spot to end it all. God knows, if I had to spend too long up here, I'd want to top myself." Owen groaned.

Then his eyes momentarily widened and he glanced at Iris really quickly, but nobody noticed the man panic for a second because Ianto brought the food from the van.

"Here you go. Careful, they're hot. Sure you don't want anything, Tosh? Iris?"

Iris nodded, still remaining silent, while Tosh said, "Really sure. A friend of mine caught hepatitis off a burger from one of these places."

Iris grimaced while everybody else paused with the burger already in their mouth. Jack carefully set his burger down while the rest of them warily ate theirs as he said,

"We'll start with the most recent victim, Ellie Johnson. We last have record of her making a phone call. She dropped out of signal mid-call. The coverage map has her placed somewhere about here. Looks as good a place as any to set up camp."

Owen's eyes widened in disbelief as he asked, "Sorry, did you say camp?"

The entire team was setting up camp, while Owen quickly was checking up on Iris's condition. Jack had asked him to check her health really quickly because she didn't look good. While he was checking her temperature, he whispered,

"I'm sorry about the comment earlier, with the uh-, topping myself. I didn't mean it."

Iris looked at him as if asking him what he was talking about.

"I didn't notice that you said that… it's fine." Iris said.

Owen sighed in relief. During Iris' first medical, he found out that Iris had cut herself in the past. It wasn't noticeable, but he saw the scars, and noticed how Iris would sometimes rub her wrists while staring into nothing. He didn't tell anybody else, as Iris asked it to remain a secret, but he took it upon himself to look after her. To him, she felt like a sister. Despite the recent incident with the fairies, he cared for her. She was a victim to the Rift, and yet she hid the fact that she suffered everyday with the knowledge that she couldn't see her family ever again. She would smile, make jokes, and laugh with them, despite everything.

He wanted to help her get adjusted as quickly as possible. But it also didn't help with the fact that her headaches were bothering her still.

"How's your headache?" Owen asked.

"I took the medication you gave me, so I should be good for a while." Iris said.

"Does it hurt a lot?" He asked, making sure she wasn't lying to him.

"Not much." Iris said, as her mind wandered. It honestly concerned Jack and Owen that she was suffering from a headache ever since she fell through the Rift. They wondered if this would last for her entire life, but couldn't find the answer to it.

"Alright, let me know if it spikes and hurts, ok?" Owen said, and Iris nodded. They then proceeded to help set up camp.

Owen returned to his normal, angry self when he asked, "What's the matter with a hotel?"

Jack rolled his eyes as Iris grabbed more things from the rover, and responded, "People are going missing round here. Do you really wanna stay in a place run by strangers?"

"Oh, because sleeping outside is going to be a lot safer." Owen said in response.

"No other race in the universe goes camping. Celebrate your own uniqueness." Jack said.

In the meanwhile, once Iris helped hauling all the stuff from the rover, making sure that nothing was left, so that technological things Tosh would need for later would be available, she sat down and just stared into space. Ever since she came here to this universe, she spaced out a lot, as if she needed it to cool her head.

Jack looked at Iris spacing out, and felt concerned. He was about to go to her when he heard Gwen say,

"Oh, come on. It's just a bit of fun. Who was the last person you snogged?"

Owen muttered, "You even sound like an eight-year-old. Who the hell says snog?"

Gwen ignored that and continued with, "Mine was Rhys." Thinking back with happy thoughts about her boyfriend.

"Yeah, well, there's a surprise." He huffed out.

"Tosh, your go." Gwen said.

The woman blushed slightly as she said, "Owen."

The medic looked in shock at Tosh and said, "What?" the same time Gwen said, "Really?"

Owen then followed it up with, "Tosh, love, in your dreams."

He then felt a hand smack the back of his head, and yelled "Ow! Who-" and turned around to see that Iris came back to the group and was the culprit. He just quieted down and rubbed his head as Iris spoke,

"Rude."

"Sorry." He said to Tosh.

The woman looked up in surprise and nodded.

"So, who was yours?" Tosh asked Owen.

Owen quickly looked at Iris, knowing that she knew. He shuddered at the glare she was giving him, and quickly muttered out, "I don't remember…"

Iris rolled her eyes and the team noticed that she was almost acting like her normal self again.

Gwen anxiously let out a small breath of relief while Owen asked, Jack.

"Jack?"

The man looked up and smirked, looking at Iris, who quickly blushed bright red and looked down at the ground. "Are we including non-human lifeforms?"

Everybody groaned except for Iris, who glared at him. When would he stop teasing her like this?

"Oh you haven't" Gwen said in disgust while Owen similarly responded with,

"You're a sick man, Harkness. That is disgusting."

"I never know when he is joking." Gwen said, clearly disturbed by Jack's response. All she could picture was him kissing a weevil, and she shuddered.

Ianto remained silent, not wanting to respond or be part of the game. He missed Lisa, but something in him told him to not say it. It didn't seem right to share his misery and pain. Right now, he couldn't really think about anything else except for how tired and exhausted Iris looked.

Gwen then stood up, knowing that Iris and Ianto wouldn't join in on the conversation, while Owen said, "We should get some firewood"

Gwen then volunteered to help, she wanted to get out of the tense atmosphere that seemed to be emanating from Iris.

But it didn't take too long for the team to see Gwen running down with Owen clearly in shock. Iris looked up at them and followed after them. When they arrived back at the corpse, Iris almost gagged from the stench. But she remembered why this corpse was here, and her legs almost gave out. She remained silent again, unable to feel confident or sure about anything anymore. It was one thing to feel terrified while watching a show, but another to actually live it, not know what could potentially change because she was also there.

Owen analyzed the body, and said, "Well, it's not Ellie Johnson, that's for sure. This is a male, late forties, fifties. Wasn't killed here. No blood splatter or signs of a struggle. Must have been brought here after he died."

"Why do that? It's not like they've tried to bury him here." Gwen said.

"Maybe you disturbed them and they ran away." Tosh suggested, but Ianto shook his head and said,

"Maybe it's a warning. Whoever's responsible marking out their territory."

Jack then asked, "cause of death?" and the medic replied with, "Impossible to say. The body's been stripped of the flesh and bodily organs so what is left is a carcass."

Tosh asked, "Could the Weevils have come out this far?"

Iris shook her head and whispered, "guys… we need to go back now.."

They all looked at her when they heard a car engine start.

"Shit!" Owen said as he sprinted forwards, while the team closely followed him.

When they arrived back at the camp site, Owen yelled out a string of curses, and kicked a rock.

"Why what's wrong?" Jack asked. He hadn't seen Owen get so visibly upset. Normally, if he had forgotten something for the team, he just got pissed off and would try to just get it over with.

"I forgot that I had left Iris' medications in there." He said as he looked guilty about it.

Iris looked at him with shock. She didn't expect him to be so apologetic.

"It's fine Owen. I can-"

"What? Bear it? Iris, that headache is not normal! You shouldn't have to bear it just because! You should be mad at me! I was responsible for you!" Owen said as he grabbed her shoulders.

"Owen. The car wasn't stolen. He just stopped it somewhere a bit from here."

"What?" He asked, and looked at Tosh. But Ianto responded with,

"Actually, Iris is right. It's been stationary for the past four minutes. I'd go so far as to say it was parked."

Gwen looked at the map and said,

"There's a small village in that area. Other than that, nothing for thirty miles."

"Call me suspicious, but this has all the hallmarks of a trap." Tosh said.

"Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing. Anyone fancy a walk?" Jack asked, as the team headed for the road.

Ianto headed forward when he noticed Iris was trembling. He went back and grabbed her hand and they walked together.

When they finally arrived at the village, Jack ordered,

"Tosh, Ianto. Follow the signal, find the SUV. Owen, Gwen, Iris, let's see if there's any room at the inn."

Iris quickly spoke out loud, sounding sure for the first time the entire day. "Jack, I'm going to go with Ianto and Tosh. That way, we are even in numbers."

Jack looked at her, then nodded as he said, "Be careful. If anything happens, Ianto, call me."

Ianto nodded and Iris left with Ianto and Tosh.

The trio finally arrived at the village, and split up to cover the ground.

"At least we've got all the stuff. Thank goodness Iris took out everything from the SUV." Tosh said, smiling at Iris.

Iris tried smiling back, which Tosh noticed, but couldn't manage to actually smile. Tosh looked worried, but then they all heard a vixen bark.

"What was that?" Tosh asked.

Iris' face paled a ghostly white, and Ianto quickly grabbed her hand. He noticed that it was so cold, that it felt like he was grabbing a corpse.

"Perhaps it's just a fox. I'll check round the back." He said, and quickly went to check.

Tosh headed another way, while Iris took her gun out immediately and followed Ianto. But as she was rounding around a corner, she heard a twig snap behind her. She quickly turned around and ducked, managing to avoid the man swinging a big object that would have knocked her out if she didn't respond so quickly. She then ran and aimed to shoot, but the man quickly knocked her over. Her body landed against the grass with a thud, and the next thing she saw was the man raise the club and bring it down. The world turned black quickly.

Ianto noticed that Iris was wasn't behind him when he heard Iris groan in pain and a thud of a body falling.

"Iris!" he yelled and quickly ran back the direction he came from, but when he saw Iris' limp body on the floor, something hit the back of his head hard and the world turned black.

When the world came to, Ianto jumped up in shock, and found Iris looking down at him with worry.

"Are you ok?" He asked, and Iris nodded. She pointed to Tosh, telling him that she was there too. Ianto turned back to Iris though, and said,

"Do you know about this? What might happen? Was that why?"

Iris nodded quietly and said,

"I'm so sorry… I wanted to prevent this from happening. But… I… I don't know what would happen if I changed the timelines and all that…."

And for the first time, Ianto saw her cry. He quickly hugged her as she cried in despair and guilt. Ianto wasn't sure how Iris was able to remain so quiet about the events. If it was him, he probably would have spilled it by now, considering what was happening.

Iris had woken up first, and an hour had passed before Ianto woke up. In her own stupid curiosity, she had opened the fridge. She immediately regretted it. She knew what was inside, but she ended up seeing the contents of the fridge in person. The fear was so overwhelming that she thought that she almost had a panic attack. But Ianto groaned at that moment, and she had quickly went by to his side.

While crying in Ianto's arm, Tosh woke up, and looked for her gun.

Ianto then whispered, "You know, I never liked camping. Don't bother. They took the guns."

Tosh then picked up a metal hook, and asked, "Is Iris alright?"

Iris then sniffed and said, "I'm so sorry. I could have stopped this-"

Tosh then realized why Iris had been so quiet and terrified and had followed after them. She quickly hugged Iris and said, "I understand. I regretted leaving you behind after the last case. It's fine. Just tell me that by the end of this, we all are alive."

Iris said, "We all are alive at the end. It's just…"

Tosh shook her head and silenced Iris. She met eye contact with Ianto, and decided to protect her as much as they could.

"Well, charming place they got." Tosh commented, trying to lighten Iris's mood a little bit.

"Chances of rescue?" Ianto asked, leaving out the bad parts.

"We won't need rescuing. I haven't met a cell yet I couldn't get out of." Tosh said confidently.

"What were they?" Ianto asked.

"I don't know It happened too quickly. Are you worried?" Tosh responded.

Then Iris stood up and brushed off the dust off her pants, determined to live through this, and said with growing anger,

"This is strictly human."

Ianto and Tosh looked at Iris with shock.

"What?" Tosh asked.

Iris looked at both of them and said, "It's not alien."

Ianto then looked around and whispered in genuine curiosity.

"Don't you ever wonder how long we can survive before we go mad, or get killed, or lose a loved one?"

Iris looked up at Ianto, while Tosh responded,

"I guess this job is worth the risk to protect people." And as she walked around, she stilled as she asked,

"Is that a shoe?"

Iris looked up, and realized where Tosh was headed and before Tosh could open up the fridge, she blocked Tosh's hand and stood in front of the fridge.

"You don't want to look at what's inside." Iris said with determination.

Ianto and Tosh looked at her in shock. "Iris, what is it? What's in there? Tell us." Ianto said.

"Guys, don't." Iris said,

But Ianto gently pushed Iris out of the way, and Tosh opened the fridge. Both Torchwood agents gasped in horror as they saw what was inside and slammed the door shut.

"That's why there was nothing left on the body. They need to eat. We're food. But why-" Tosh said, when everything clicked in Ianto's head.

"You said this was strictly human." He said in trepidation.

Iris looked at them with guilt, and muttered, "I'm so sorry. This is all my fault. If I only was able to stop this from happening…"

Tosh hugged Iris and said, "No. Don't say that. We'll figure something out. Don't worry. You said we live through this, so we will. We can think about what to do. So stop blaming yourself."

Ianto hugged Iris too, and said, "This is never your fault. Even if you weren't here, this would have most likely happened. So don't blame yourself."

Iris nodded and then gathered up whatever scrap of courage was left in her body for the impending terror.

With that, Iris told them what she knew might happen. She figured that since they knew enough now, that it wouldn't hurt as long as they kept most of the details similar to the episode. Ianto and Tosh were initially horrified to know that the entire village was committing these crimes, but quickly stepped into action as they planned on what they would do. They all agreed to have Tosh run away, while Ianto and Iris distracted the people.

That was when the woman came in and Ianto grabbed her.

"Get off. Look at me, you idiot. I'm not gonna hurt you." She said.

Iris felt sick when she saw the woman attempt to look terrified. Instead of fear, anger was starting to boil in, and she no longer shook from fear. It was pure anger. Tosh noticed and quickly interjected with, "Okay, okay, give her some space."

For a moment, Tosh thought Iris would murder the woman in pure anger, and decided to stop her from ruining the timelines.

"Thank you. Were you injured when they took you? Can I see? I'm a nurse. Okay. Okay Does anyone else know you're here? Have you managed to call for help?"

"Nobody know we're here. And as for calling, they took our phones." Iris said, calming down a little bit. She needed to stay focused.

"I can't help you. I'm sorry." The woman said, and Ianto stepped up for his part, saying,

"What d'you mean?"

"I've been sent to collect you. I've got to take you to them." She said.

The tree Torchwood members shared a look, and then Tosh asked,

"Then tell us what's going on. We can help."

The lady shook her had violently and said, "No one's safe? Every ten years, it takes us again."

Iris asked, "What takes you? What is it?" acting as if she didn't know.

"The Harvest. No, please you have to come with me." The woman said.

And with that, they warily went towards the slaughterhouse with the shotgun pointing at each of them in turn as the woman rotated between them.

"In there, please." She said, still keeping up with the act.

The three people remained silent and listened.

"Oh God, that stench." Tosh whispered out.

Ianto gulped in panic and Iris lost all strength in her legs and fell at the sight of the bodies wrapped in plastic wraps, hanging from the hooks.

Ianto quickly helped her up and Tosh looked at the woman warily.

"Tell us what these creatures are. Do they look like us?" She asked.

Then the man called Evan came out and said, "How else are we gonna look?"

Tosh, Ianto, and Iris tensed at his arrival and looked at each other again, making sure the plan was still in motion while Evan and his wife kissed.

"How are they?" Evan asked his wife.

"They're in a good state. I think they're the best we've ever had." Helen, the wife, said.

"Yeah? Oh, I forgot to tell you, we caught the boy. Finally. Come on. Come on." He said, as if he was coaxing the boy, and dragged him near Iris.

"I won't tell anyone" The boy cried out, begging Evan to let him go.

Tosh knelt beside the boy and asked, "Who is he?"

Evan sneered at all of them and said, "He's meat. I'm afraid we're all just meat."

Ianto then knelt beside Tosh, and helped her up, quickly whispering into her ear, "Get ready to run." And separated from her quickly to stand by Iris again.

Iris then commented, "What're you going to do, put us on meat hooks?"

This grabbed Evan's attention away from Ianto and Tosh, who looked at her, worried. Evan then smirked and fetched his baseball bat, quickly returning to cup Iris's cheek with one hand before sliding his fingers down to her breast and grabbing it, while saying,

"No, not yet. You see, meat has to be tenderized first."

Ianto stepped up, anger rising in his eyes as he saw Evan continuously grope Iris's breast while the girl winced, clearly wanting to cry in disgust at the sensation.

Evan looked up at Ianto, and then moved towards him. Ianto quickly smiled and head-butted him while Iris quickly dashed over and knocked Helen over as they both yelled,

"Go! Get the others!"

Tosh bolted out the doors as the two struggled against their captors. Evan quickly knocked Ianto out and Helen was struggling with Iris, the shotgun out of range as Iris had kicked out from her hands. Then Evan pulled Iris off his wife and shoved Iris to the ground. Helen quickly got her shotgun and pointed it at Ianto, stopping Iris from doing anything further. Evan quickly got his machete and went to catch Tosh.

All Iris hoped for was that Tosh get safely out of the woods.

But not long enough, Helen put a rag over Ianto's head and laughed at how miserable Iris looked. She put a gag over Iris's mouth, preventing her from talking too. Iris glared at the woman with all her strength. But at this point, it had been hours since Iris had taken her medication for her headache, and the pain in her head was returning. And the exhaustion was not helping her at all. Her skull felt like something hard was hitting at her skull from the inside. And soon enough, she began sweating in pain.

But as she struggled through her pain, villagers began to file in one-by-one. One man came up to her and looked her up and down, stopping occasionally at the lower part of her body. She grimaced and tried to scoot away from the man, but he lifted her up by her neck, and asked Helen,

"I think I might enjoy myself a bit. Will Evan be ok with that?"

Helen looked at Iris, seeing the pure terror in her eyes, and smirked.

"Go ahead. It seems like Evan will enjoy himself just by catching the other one anyway."

"Excellent" the man said, and dragged Iris to another room. He shoved her to the ground, and straddled on top of her.

Iris tried to scream through her gag and struggled against the man as best as she could. The man quickly slapped her face and said,

"Stay still! Or I will eat your friend over there first!"

Tears freely flowed down from Iris as she stilled at that comment. She closed her eyes and silently cried as she felt the man feeling her all over. She wanted this to end, when she finally heard Gwen's voice.

"Who are these people?"

Helen responded with, "This is our village."

Gwen glared at the woman and said, "The villagers are dead!"

Tosh shook her head and whispered, "They're all involved. They've all been doing it."

Upon hearing their voice, Iris opened her eyes, only to see that the man who had already had his hands inside her shirt and pants, breathe heavily and his eyes darken. She wanted to scream as she realized what he began to do. As the man was taking his belt off, she screamed.

"What the hell was that? Wait, where's Iris?! What the hell are you doing to her?!" Iris heard Owen yell at the villagers.

"A friend is having fun with her." Helen said nonchalantly.

"Only in the countryside, you sick fuckers!" Owen spat out as he struggled to get out of his captor's grasp.

Tosh then proceeded with, "Where's Ianto? What have you done with him?"

Iris struggled further, screaming again, when the man decided that it was enough and punched her in the stomach.

Iris coughed in shock and tried to breathe, as she cried, but the world turned blurry from her tears. And she could no longer focus on what was happening as her headache worsened. She thought she was seeing black spots as she felt the man unbutton her jeans.

Then they heard Evan yell,

"What now? What the fuck?!" and a big crash. The man on top of her immediately stood up and cracked the door open a bit to check the situation out. He cursed out loud, and then forced Iris to stand. Iris felt weak and felt like throwing up and screaming all at the same time, but struggled to stay awake.

Gunshots were heard, and Iris wanted to run, but the man held a knife to her neck before kicking the door open and creeping out.

"Iris!" Tosh called out when she saw the girl.

Panic rose in all the Torchwood member's minds as they saw how horrible Iris looked.

"Let me go. If you don't I will kill her!" The man said.

Jack pointed his gun at the man, clearly angry at the situation that was unfolding before his eyes. He looked at Iris, and noticed that she looked sick, most likely her headache acting up again. But he noticed the bruises on her neck and how she had a split lip. His hands shook as he desperately wanted to shoot the man. But because the man was so focused on Jack, he didn't notice Owen creep up behind him before knocking the man over and grabbing Iris away from him.

Jack quickly shot the man in the leg, and helped Owen with his bonds. The medic then proceeded to help Iris, Tosh, Ianto, and Gwen. And as Jack was about to kill the man who had held Iris, Gwen yelled,

"No! Jack. Don't do it."

"These people don't deserve warnings." Jack spat out.

"Let me question him. I have to understand. I want to know why. Otherwise, this, this is too much." Gwen said, clearly shaken from the entire event.

Tosh helped Ianto stand up after freeing the young boy, and said darkly, "They're injured. They need to get to the hospital."

Gwen looked at Owen and said, "Owen, you control the bleeding and then phone the police. Jack, please give me an hour with him. Don't tell me you don't want to know too."

Owen looked at Iris, who just looked almost dead inside, and went to stop the others' bleeding.

Ianto reached out to help Iris, but she flinched away reflexively. Ianto stopped his hand that had been reaching for her, and brought it back down, clenching it into a fist as he resisted the urge to pummel the man who had traumatized Iris. Meanwhile, Tosh called the police.

Once they all went back to the Hub, Iris immediately went to wash up. While in the shower, she furiously washed her skin to the point that her skin turned red. She wanted to erase all evidence of the incident, but she couldn't help but remember how the man had touched her. She couldn't bear to look in the mirror and see herself anymore.

She broke down and cried. Locking herself in the room in pure despair and self-hatred.

Owen waited by the door to Iris's room in the base. He was worried about Iris taking extreme measures, but didn't want to push her by talking about it. Earlier on the way, Gwen had yelled at Iris in the hospital when Iris followed everybody else to check in on her.

"You knew." Gwen spat at Iris.

Iris froze and looked at Gwen with guilt. She bowed her head and remained silent.

"Gwen…" Jack said, but Gwen glared at him and quickly yelled at Iris.

"You bloody knew about all this and didn't say one word. You could have stopped this. You could have stopped this thing before it turned out like this, but no, you had to make us all traumatized, didn't you?! What are you even good for Iris, when you won't use that knowledge to save anyone from things like this?!"

"THAT'S ENOUGH GWEN!" Jack yelled to the woman.

He quickly suspended Gwen for a week from work, and they all left Gwen's hospital room. After a while, Tosh and Ianto came down with Iris's medications and headed them to Owen. Owen knocked carefully and was surprised that Iris opened the door. He thought that she would scream or tell them to go away, but she just opened the door.

"We… uh.. brought your medicine for you." Owen said.

Iris looked at them and said, "Thank you."

She took the medicine and then proceeded to take it. She set down the water cup after she finished onto her table and then looked at her team members. She gave them a small smile, which broke all their hearts at once.

"I will be fine. Just… just give me a few days…"

They then heard Jack's voice, as he said, "Take as long as you need. And we're sorry about Gwen."

Iris looked up at him, and paused momentarily in shock. His eyes were filled with sorrow and she wasn't sure if she saw something. But she shook her head slightly and said,

"I understand why she said those things. She has every right to say that considering that she got hurt I guess. It just, surprised me back then, that's all."

Owen spoke up then.

"That doesn't give her any reason to be such an arse to you Iris. You need to speak up for yourself. If anything, we are supposed to help you through this. It hasn't been that long since you came through the Rift and yet you try to act strong. That's bullshit. You need to depend on us more Iris. We're here for you."

Iris looked at the people in front of her and she felt something warm in her heart. She felt her heart beat in joy, something that she hadn't truly experienced in years. Despite her building walls for herself earlier and avoiding all human contact, she rushed over to Owen and hugged him tightly.

She then hugged Ianto, Tosh, and Jack. When she reached Jack, she heard him say,

"It's ok to cry. It's ok to lean on us when you need it the most. That's why we're here, just like Owen said."

With that, she finally broke down and cried out loud, something she had not done in the past 13 years.

Chapter Text

It took a while for the team to come back after recuperating from the incident with the cannibals. However, Owen came to the Hub frequently to check up on Iris, considering that she needed to get frequently checked for her continuing migraines.

And of all days, that day, Jack and Owen hovered over Iris, who had almost fainted from the migraine.

"I'm fine.." Iris groaned as she waved Owen's hand away from her head.

"Look, I understand that you think that you don't need all of us to fret over your migraines, but you almost fainted today Iris." Owen argued.

It has been happening a lot recently. Ever since the incident with the cannibals, Iris hid the fact that sometimes, she needed the medication at random times, causing her to almost faint in various places. Her hiding her pain seemed to be a way for her to cope with what was happening around her. As if she wanted people to think that she was alright when she really wasn't. A coping mechanism that Owen knew was not healthy for Iris.

Iris looked at the Torchwood medic and frowned, sighing in resignation.

"I know, it's just that I wish that we understood why I'm having these nasty headaches."

Jack looked at her with a strict look in his eyes as he said,

"Well, I'm not having you faint again. Until we understand what this is, make sure to take care of yourself and to take the medications that Owen gives you."

"Yeah…" Iris groaned out as she rolled her eyes.

"Are we done?" Iris asked Owen carefully.

The medic nodded and helped her back to her room. Even now, Iris was staying at the Torchwood base, unable to find a satisfactory place to stay at. He had offered a spare room at his place, but Iris had complained that she wouldn't want to intrude into Owen's outside life from Torchwood. Knowing Owen, he probably brought a girl every so often, which Iris did not want to listen to.

When Owen came back to the Hub to clean up, he found Jack sitting on the sofa, with his head in his hands. The captain had been keeping a close eye on Iris since the incident with the cannibals, as if waiting for Iris to break down completely and to quit Torchwood at any moment.

"Jack, I think we need to talk." Owen said as he finished cleaning up.

"About what?" Jack said as he looked up at the Torchwood medic.

"About Iris." Owen said as he looked down at his boss, handing him a bottle of beer.

Jack graciously accepted the bottle and took a sip, letting the cool beer slide down his throat.

"Yeah?" He asked.

"Yeah, I noticed something about you since Iris joined…" Owen said, as he looked at the Hub almost like he was thinking back on something.

Jack looked at Owen like something had shocked him for a split second.

"What?" He asked, genuinely curious as to what Owen needed to say.

"It's as if you're more sensitive to things when Iris is involved. Lately, you haven't been able to sleep well because you were watching over Iris. Sure, it's my fault to ask you to watch over her since you both live here, but still…The look you had when that guy had threatened to kill Iris, your eyes… well… bloody hell it looked like you wanted to rip that man apart with your own two hands Jack." Owen said

He remembered how Jack looked. It sent shudders down his spine to even remember such hatred and anger emanate from the man. Back then, Owen thought that Jack might have been more horrifying than the cannibals.

Jack looked at Owen and said, "Weren't we all?"

Owen shook his head, and said,

"Look, I'm not the best relationship advice-giver, but that look, I recognize it. It's almost as if you saw someone threaten to kill your lover."

Jack stopped mid-drink and he almost choked. He looked at Owen in surprise. He didn't expect the man to realize what he was trying to exactly prevent from happening. It was true, Jack couldn't deny that there was something within him that felt for Iris. He wasn't sure what it was, but he had been trying to hold it back to the best of his abilities.

"So you knew…" He muttered out as he put his head back into his hands again.

Owen looked at Jack and shook his head.

"Look, I don't know anything, and Iris, she needs all the support she could get. But from what I can see, you have competition." Owen said.

"Do you mean Ianto?" Jack asked.

Owen nodded and said, "Yeah, those two… they went through so much within the past few cases, they grew on each other. Everybody can see that. But I also saw something between you and Iris, Jack. It's not as obvious, but the signs are there when you look for them."

With that Owen, got up, stretching, and put on his coat, all the while saying,

"If you feel something for her Jack, I advise you to act on it. Because I think that Iris is someone who could easily slip through our fingers… If you know what I mean. We saw it happen today, her fainting like that, those migraines of hers are clearly getting worse. I just don't know how long the medications are going to be actually effective."

Jack looked at Owen and sighed.

Owen gave a sidelong glance at Jack, and said before leaving,

"I'm hoping that you stick with Iris. Sure, Ianto is great, you two, if Iris wasn't here, might have hit it off… who knows? But, from what I can see, I think you and Iris are better together. In my opinion anyway…Well, I'll see you tomorrow Jack. Good night."

"Night…" Jack responded.

After the Torchwood medic left, Jack looked to the direction where there was a hall that led towards the area with the extra room. Iris was staying there as of now, and in the past weeks, Iris seemed to have made a difference in the team. He would notice how she made Owen be a little nicer to everyone around him, Gwen a little less hormonal about everything, Tosh a bit more confident and with Ianto, it was obvious that the Welsh man was much happier than before. Occasionally, Jack found himself smiling warmly while watching Iris' innocent facial expressions. Sometimes, she had the habit of puffing air into her cheeks when she was frustrated, her smile would be radiant. When he noticed himself staring at her for too long, he felt his heart beat a little faster.

But he didn't want to face the pain of losing someone he loved.

With that, Jack stretched a little and headed towards his room to sleep.

In a few days, the team came back to do work. They exited the rover at a building site, with Jack muttering,

"Once, just once, I'd like to walk into one of these tents and find it's a party. You know, food, drink, people dancing, a girl crying in the corner."

The team then gathered around the skeleton and pieces of metal in a small pit. Iris glanced at Tosh with a worried look. She wasn't sure how to handle this one. Tosh would be heartbroken for sure, but everything that mostly took place in this episode was done outside of the Hub, which Iris strictly minimized leaving. Iris wasn't sure, but she didn't feel secure about leaving the Hub at all. Especially since she knew that the Master could be out there somewhere, and she didn't want to face him just yet.

She was brought back to the world when she heard Gwen ask,

"Is it alien?"

Jack added to it with, "And how. I'm picking up traces of ilmenite, pyroxene, and even Dark Matter."

Gwen asked him, "Any idea what it is?"

Jack responded with, "Not a clue. Could be a weapon, or a really big stapler. How's our friend there?"

He was asking Iris and Owen. Ever since she joined, Iris was able to help out Owen using her former skills as a paramedic. The days she once spent as a medical student paid off in assisting the Torchwood medic.

"She's dead." Owen muttered, clearly annoyed to be outside of his home.

Iris glared at him, and the man smirked a little while studying the corpse as Jack said,

"Yeah, thanks, Quincy. She?"

"Judging by the size of her skull." Owen said.

"Really… I think this is a 'he'." Iris countered. She then explained to Owen. Owen listened and thought for a moment and decided to go with what she was saying.

"Never mind, it's a he." Owen said out loud, but only Iris heard him, as everybody was focused on Tosh at the moment as she said,

"From the depth they found them, a 196 years, eleven to eleven and a half months. The earth's been disturbed so I'm afraid I can't be more accurate."

Gwen then asked, "What killed her, the stapler?"

Iris looked up and said, "Really? A stapler? Look at his chest Gwen."

Owen backed her up as he said, "See those shattered ribs? I reckon he was shot."

Gwen rolled her eyes and just helped Owen come out of the pit, trying to hold down a snide remark towards Iris. Ianto was helping her up at the same moment. But nobody noticed how Iris had shaken her head when Owen said that the man had been shot.

Jack then remarked, "Well, let's get him back to the Hub and find out."

Once they were back at the Hub, Tosh came in to find Iris scolding Owen.

"How many times did I tell you that you can't play around here? If you're gonna play, go play somewhere else in the Hub."

"Yes Mum…" Owen muttered as he sauntered off, sulking.

"What did you say?" Iris asked after Owen.

Tosh found it funny how Owen looked back at Iris guiltily and trudged off, putting the football away and going to grab a drink. It seemed that Iris was the only one who was able to successfully scold Owen from time to time. He would then listen and just follow with what she had to say.

After stretching a bit, Iris turned around to find Tosh.

"Hey Tosh!" Iris said, smiling.

"What happened?" Tosh asked, smiling back.

"Ah, Owen was goofing around this area with that stupid football of his and I didn't want that translation program to go wrong, so I kicked him out from this area."

Tosh was surprised at that and thanked Iris.

"There's nothing to thank me for Tosh. I just did it because I really want that thing working you know? It was hard to code, considering that both you and I worked on it together. I didn't want that bluthering idiot to come in and kick out the plug and ruin everything."

Iris responded as she shrugged it off. Tosh was grateful. Iris had been helping her around, boosting her confidence, and it was helping.

"Drink?" Tosh asked Iris. The girl only shook her head and said,

"I'm sorry. I have a movie marathon with Ianto planned tonight. I finally get to geek out about something again, and I don't want to miss that chance. Unless you want to join?" Iris asked.

Tosh shook her head quickly.

"No, I'm fine. Maybe next time." She responded.

Tosh saw how Ianto had recently been looking and behaving around Iris, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to butt in. Iris was so oblivious to how Ianto was acting around her, that Tosh sometimes wanted to pull her hair out, but she let it be. They were cute together, she had to admit, and she didn't want to ruin a date, even if Iris wasn't aware that Ianto may have been hinting it to be just that.

A couple hours later, Iris stretched out from her bed and yawned. Ianto was taking out the DVD and cleaning up. He looked at Iris with a small smile. At these moments, she seemed so part of this world. It was as if she was always here. Her small height made her that much more adorable and more innocent-like. When at work and in the field however, she seemed to be entirely different; it was as if she fed off the adrenaline and became more confident in what she decided to do.

Iris noticed Ianto just staring at her, and she paused, noticing the look he was giving her. Her heart sped up just a little bit. Nervous, she laughed a little and rubbed her mouth with the back of her hand, asking,

"Is there something on my face?"

Ianto was taken out of his thought at the question and smiled a little wider, a blush working up his face, as he said,

"No. Uh… I was…"

Then Jack burst in, causing Ianto to jump and Iris to stand up suddenly from the sudden noise.

"Guys! I found… What?" Jack asked as he saw Iris and Ianto blush a little.

Ianto coughed a little, and said as left the room, "I will wash this up and head back home. Good night."

Iris replied with a "Goodnight." And suddenly found the floor interesting as she looked down at it.

"What happened?" Jack asked as he closed the door behind him.

"Nothing really. Just watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in one go while eating snacks and that was it." Iris replied.

"Your blushing." Jack countered.

"I'm! Uh…Just feeling warm… that's all." Iris replied, flustered by everything.

Jack let it go, and said, "I only came in to see if you wanted to study the thing we found earlier in the field."

Iris looked up at him and said, "Yeah! Sure! I'd love to. Be there in a minute."

Jack gave her a thumbs up and went back to the Hub. When he finally left Iris's room, he felt a little tingling sensation as if something tickled his pride. Ianto had apparently already left and Jack wasn't sure what he felt. That was when Owen's words from earlier came back to him.

"If you feel something for her Jack, I advise you to act on it. Because I think that Iris is someone who could easily slip through our fingers… If you know what I mean. We saw it happen today, her fainting like that, those migraines of hers are clearly getting worse. I just don't know how long the medications are going to be actually effective."

It wasn't long until she came up to help him out with the machine. After about two hours working on the machine that they had found, he saw Iris yawn heavily.

"You tired?" He asked.

Iris shook her head, but he could see how her eyes were drooping down occasionally.

"Go get some sleep." He said, and led her to her room.

"Good night Jack." Iris murmured and he replied with,

"Good night."

He closed the door behind him, still bothered with what he felt when he saw Ianto and Iris blush right in front of him. He didn't know what had happened between the two, but be didn't feel all too happy about it. If anything, he wanted to be able to get some time to rest with Iris, but the only thing he could think of was to drag her to work. He wasn't as close to Iris as Ianto was, and that seemed to stop him from approaching her. She looked fragile, and like Owen said, he thought that Iris was someone who would easily slip through his fingers.

The next morning, Tosh arrived at the Hub and saw everybody working at their respective places as usual. While she thought nobody was looking, she tried to slip it on when Ianto came along. She quickly hid it behind her back, when he said,

"Good morning."

She responded with "Yeah. Hi Ianto."

While she was interacting with Ianto this way, she didn't realize that Iris saw the pendant Tosh was holding. Iris frowned a bit, and sighed as she continued typing away, making sure she wasn't thinking anything related to this universe in fear of having Tosh know anything of her future. She looked through the corner of her eye at what Tosh was doing, and it seemed that she was overwhelmed by what Owen and Gwen were thinking. Iris had recently noticed that the relationship between Owen and Gwen were not great. She knew that in the show, they were having sex together, but when she saw them, they seemed almost antagonistic towards each other. Ever since the incident with the cannibals, Gwen and Owen seemed to snap at each other.

Iris quickly finished the file she was working on and sighed, exhausted, and headed to get some fresh air. She quickly stepped outside, not noticing Tosh look at her with a worried look on her face.

When Iris returned, she noticed that Tosh was looking worn out, and she went up to the Torchwood technician and asked,

"Are you alright? You don't look so good."

Tosh looked up in surprise and looked at her a bit before replying softly,

"I'm fine… Thank you for last time though."

"Huh?" Iris asked, confused about what she was thanking her for.

"The incident with the cannibals. You risked your life with Ianto to help me. And there was the last time to when you covered for me when there was a Weevil incident and I couldn't make it." Tosh replied.

Iris smiled and said, "That's what friends are for, right?"

Tosh looked a little surprised and then finally smiled.

"Yeah, you're right." She said.

Then they both began to do their work again, making sure that they finished the task Jack had assigned them to for the day.

The next day, Iris came to the Hub to find Gwen dancing around the Autopsy room, making fun of Owen.

"Let me guess, Owen made a mistake in his guess about the man getting shot." Iris said as she walked up to Jack.

Gwen laughed her head off and pointed to Owen, while the man rolled his eyes and just swore under his breath. Then Tosh came in, asking,

"What's going on?"

Gwen replied with, "You know the skeleton we found at the site? Well, Amanda Burton here has just completed the post mortem."

Owen spoke up and said, "Okay, I can explain."

But Gwen cut in with, "As you may remember, at the building site Owen said that this man was killed by a single gunshot. Since then, he's had to tweak one of his conclusions. The cause of death. Owen said GSW."

With that, Gwen made a loud noise indicating that Owen was wrong, and continued with, "The correct answer was…"

As she looked at Owen, who replied sulkily, "Unidentified trauma."

"Unidentified trauma?" Tosh asked, seeing Iris trying to hold her laughter in.

"Mmm. You see it in RTAs when something like a steering column or a post goes into a body at great velocity. But the one thing that could be ruled out was?" Gwen said,

"Gunshot wound." Iris said proudly.

Owen glared at her as Gwen continued with,

"Gunshot wound."

Jack chuckled a little bit, as Owen said,

"I at least got that it was a skeleton."

Iris snorted at that and the team separated to do their own jobs. Iris saw Tosh go into Jack's office after a while, noticing that she was about to ask about the name Philoctetes. Then Iris's phone rang and she answered the call, realizing that it was from the police station. During Tosh's lunch break, Iris went to Jack's office.

The 51st century man sighed heavily but looked up when he heard knocking on the door. He smiled when he saw that it was Iris, who held a coffee cup and some paperwork. He motioned her to come in. Iris entered the office and immediately cut to the chase.

"So I got a call from Detective Inspector Henderson, and he wanted to meet up with you Jack."

As she said this, she handed Jack the coffee Ianto made for him.

Jack hummed in delight at the taste of coffee before becoming serious, and asking,

"Do you happen to know what this is about?"

Iris said, "Yes. But I can't do anything really. It's all up to Tosh."

Jack looked at her carefully and then stood up, grabbing his coat, as he said, "I'll be back. Make sure that you finish that analysis with the machine."

"Yeah, yeah." Iris groaned out, clearly bored. She knew what it was and how it worked. She had figured that out a long time ago.

When Tosh came back, she headed to the Autopsy room to hand Owen his coffee. She noticed that the man was still focused on the corpse and said,

"You're not still worrying about that, are you?"

Owen responded with, "Okay, so I'm thinking that if it isn't a gunshot or a musket shot, or whatever they had then, maybe it was some kind of ritual."

He stopped as he sipped the coffee and said, "You are gorgeous, Thanks Tosh. But anyway, I started looking into devil worship and stuff from that era, see if there's anything about plucking out hearts, and would you believe it? There's nothing. They ate eyeballs, they drank blood, they had sex with animals, but they did not pluck out each other's hearts. Cos obviously, that would have been weird."

Tosh responded with, "Why are you so bothered? Whoever did this is hardly a threat to society anymore."

Iris grimaced a little upon hearing that, but quickly recovered from it.

"Yeah, I know. It's just, there's something. Does that remind you of anything?" Owen asked.

"Er, that bit in Alien where that thing bursts out of John Hurt?" Tosh responded.

Iris wasn't sure if Tosh was trying to lighten the mood or if she was being serious. But then again, Iris was never one to understand a joke when someone said it in a serious tone.

Owen just looked at Tosh, not sure if she was joking either, and then said,

"Right. Er, just… let's get back to work…"

Then as Tosh was going up the stairs, she saw Iris and then asked both Owen and her,

"Has Jack said anything to you guys about the hardware we found with the skeleton?"

"No, why?" Owen asked at the same time Iris said,

"Yeah, we were working on it together since we found it."

Tosh then asked, "Oh, just curious because I wanted to take a look at it."

When it seemed that Iris and Owen were not paying attention to her for a second, she slipped the pendant on. She tried to hear Iris, but was unsuccessful about finding out about the machine. Rather, she heard Owen's thoughts as he was looking at the body.

Then Gwen entered, saying hello almost nonchalantly and immediately headed for her desk. Tosh saw Iris frown a little bit at the former PC's behavior, but wasn't able to get anything but overwhelming sense of confusion and exhaustion.

She slightly sauntered off until she froze, hearing one specific thought that stuck out from Iris's normally silent mind.

I should stop looking at the knife. It's not going to do me any good at this universe… but I'm so tired….

Then she quickly turned around and headed to her desk again when Iris looked up to see Tosh. What Tosh didn't realize was that Iris felt something prick her mind for a second, almost as if someone was trying to get in. She then saw Tosh and Jack interact for a while later in the day before heading out. Jack looked up at her with a questioning look, signaling her to get into his office.

When she closed Jack's office door behind her, she heard him ask,

"This is an episode isn't it. And something is affecting Tosh personally."

Iris turned around and nodded.

"How did you know?" She asked.

"Tosh is acting strangely. Also, you have this distant look in your eyes, as if you're measuring what is the same and what is different from what you already know. I recognize that look from a certain man." Jack responded.

Iris looked at Jack, confused. Jack sighed and said,

"The Doctor. He has that same look on him when we traveled together."

"Oh…" Iris said quietly.

"Should I be wary of Tosh and what's affecting her?" Jack asked.

Iris nodded and Jack gathered the team together while Tosh wasn't there. They were planning for saving Tosh. Iris had to tell Owen what the unidentified trauma was on the corpse that they had found. Owen looked sick and began to ask questions regarding Tosh's safety. Iris's inner fangirl almost screamed in joy that the man was genuinely caring for Tosh, but she held it back, knowing that this was serious. Her changing the events from what she knew should happen could alter what Mary did.

Iris was ordered to hide with Owen. Originally, she had volunteered to stay with Ianto, but Jack ordered her to be with the Torchwood medic. Unable to figure out why he seemed so upset about her partnering up with Ianto, she just agreed. While they were waiting, they finally heard the alarms for the Hub blare as Tosh came in with Mary.

Mary spoke out loud,

"In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree, where Alph the sacred river ran through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea."

After a pause, Mary asked Tosh,

"So where is it, lover?"

Owen's jaw clenched a little and Iris held him back so that he wouldn't run out and ruin the plan.

They then heard Tosh respond with, "Stay here, Jack, my boss, has got it."

Mary then spoke,

"Be quick. I've a long journey ahead of me. I might need something to eat before I go."

They waited for Jack to make his entrance.

"This what you're looking for?" Jack asked from his spot.

Tosh looked up and gasped, only able to utter out his name.

"Jack…"

Jack continued to speak, ignoring Tosh for a moment, his entire focus on Mary, making sure she wasn't going to do anything stupid.

"Friend of mine. Let's call him Vincent, that was his name after all. Regular guy, girlfriend, likes his sport, likes a beer. He starts acting a little strange, a little distracted. Suddenly he disappears for a couple of months. He comes back, and we've got to start calling him Vanessa. Since then I've always been a little nervous when a friend behaves out of character. I'm sorry, we haven't been introduced. Jack Harkness."

Iris winced a little when Jack spoke in the Southern American accent that she always cringed at.

"My guess is you're not from around these parts."

The 51st century man returned to his regular American accent as he continued.

"Now this? This is incredible You know what it is?"

Tosh replied instead of Mary, noticing that the team was cautiously coming out from their hiding spot.

"It's a transporter. Mary was a political prisoner. She was exiled here. Look, Jack-"

Jack cut her off sharply as he said,

"You've got half of it right. Mary, it is Mary, isn't it? You want to tell her the really interesting bit? No? Chatty, isn't she? I don't know how you got a word in edgeways, Tosh. It's a two-man transporter. Or whatever you people may be. You might be squids, for all I know. A two-squid transporter. Room for one prisoner and one guard. You want to tell us what happened to the guard, Mary?"

Mary looked at Jack and replied, "I killed him. But I was disturbed. Then another came, A soldier. He tried to shoot me. So I plunged my new human hand into his chest and plucked out his heart."

Owen spoke up in disgust, "And that's what you have been doing ever since."

Mary smirked as she walked closer to Iris and Owen, saying "This form needs to be fed."

Owen then backed up a little in shock, glancing towards Tosh, worried, as he murmured, "All the punctures were all about the size of a fist. My God, all those people. You killed all those people."

Tosh looked at Owen, meeting his eyes, and pausing. He seemed genuinely worried about her, not listening to Mary anymore as she was becoming more aware of how horrified Owen looked.

"I fled before any more soldiers came. I had so much to explore. And how I loved this body. So soft, so wicked. The power such a body has in this world. Within a few years the forest had gone, transporter was safely buried under the spread of the city. I didn't care, I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get home."

Iris then picked up from there, taking Jack's sentence right from his mouth, "And you've been killing ever since."

Mary glanced at Iris, her interest piqued at the girl as she replied, "I knew there might come a time when my situation here became complicated, but I was safe as long as I knew where the transporter was."

Iris saw Tosh put on her pendant, and quickly tried to make sure that Tosh didn't see what the plan was. They all saw Tosh look at Gwen, reading her thoughts, as Jack spoke.

"And then the machine was uncovered."

Mary replied, coming near Tosh.

"As soon as the air touched its surface, I could feel it."

Tosh quickly looked at Owen, who was looking more and more sick by what Mary was saying. Then, panic rose in Tosh, as she shouted,

"Owen, no!"

In a blur of movement, Mary had grabbed hold of Tosh and put a knife to her throat. Iris walked closer to the two little by little, nervous about what Mary would really do. She just kept repeating in her mind,

"Save Tosh. Take her place. Save Tosh. Take her place…"

Jack shouted, "Let her go, Mary. Let her go!"

Mary whispered into Tosh's ear, "Toshiko, tell them to give me the transporter."

Tosh trembled in fear and sadness as she said, "I can't Mary."

Tosh then, somehow heard Iris's voice louder than anybody else's and focused on the girl's voice.

"Save Tosh. Take her place. Save Tosh. Take her place…"

Iris felt something prick her mind again and nodded to Tosh. Tosh then heard Mary say,

"You, how's this? I'll exchange Toshiko for that one. Your choice."

Mary had indicated to Ianto about Iris. Ianto looked panicked, but nodded carefully. The team had agreed that if someone was to switch places with Tosh, they would immediately consent in their minds.

Mary paused in shock. That wasn't what she intended, but she carefully let go of Tosh. Jack then said,

"You want the transporter, I'll give you the transporter myself."

Mary leaned into Jack and sniffed a little, smiling in confusion, "You smell different to them."

Jack looked at Mary and joked, "That's nothing. It's when you compare teeth with a British guy, that's when it's really scary."

Mary replied with, "What are you?"

Jack for once, looked at her seriously with his reply, "I don't know."

Iris looked at Jack a little with sadness. All those things that would happen to him, all that pain, and he would continue to move on. Just like another man with a blue box.

Mary then asked, "And you would have put in a cage?"

But then the machine whirred to life and surprised, Mary asked,

"What's happening?"

Jack then shoved his hands into his pockets as he replied with,

"Oh, that. Iris and I reprogrammed it for you. It's set to enable."

Tosh looked at Iris in surprise. But she heard Iris think,

"I'm so sorry Tosh."

Confused, Tosh looked back at Mary to see her fly out of Torchwood.

The team were quiet when Tosh finally asked, "What did she? Has she gone home?"

The team looked away guiltily when Jack responded with,

"I reset the coordinates."

Tosh was beginning to piece the puzzles together and she cautiously asked,

"Where to?"

Jack responded with, "To the center of the sun. It shouldn't be too hot. I mean, we sent her there at night and everything."

Tosh then felt tears stream down her face, as she spit out, "You killed her."

Jack looked at her coldly and said, "Yes."

Owen stepped up to comfort Tosh, but he saw the woman storm out of the Hub with tears flowing freely.

"Couldn't you have been a bit nicer? She's going through a lot." Owen said to Jack.

Jack just looked at his team, when Iris spoke up.

"Go after her Jack. She needs time and you should clear up things with her."

Jack nodded. He grabbed his coat and went after Tosh.

With that, everyone quietly got ready to go get a drink. They needed the drink to help with the events that happened.

Up on Roald Dahl Plass, Tosh and Jack were sitting together, talking calmly as they saw the people walk by.

"It's funny. Such a small thing. It could be the most powerful piece of technology we've ever found. It could tear down governments, wipe out armies. What do we do with it?"

Tosh said as she looked at the pendant that led her to this entire incident.

"Your call." Jack said, looking at the Torchwood Technician.

After some deliberation, Tosh muttered, "It's a curse."

With that, she dropped the pendant to the ground and broke it with her heel.

Tosh then looked at Jack, and asked with curiosity,

"Why couldn't I read your mind?"

Jack looked at her, and then honestly replied, "I don't know. Though I could feel you scrabbling around in there."

"I got nothing. It's like you were, I don't know, dead." Tosh said as she looked in front of her, not noticing Jack's smile disappear a little. He quickly regained his smile and said,

"I want that list for UNIT on my desk tomorrow, or I'll… What do bosses do in situations like these? You know, regular bosses. Can I get to beat people?"

Tosh finally smiled as she replied, "We've got rules for that."

"Argh… red tape." Jack said, acting as if he was disappointed at that jokingly.

Tosh giggled a little and said wistfully,

"Jack. Something Mary said. Probably the only honest thing she ever did say. I asked her why she gave it to me, and she said, after a while, it gets to you. It changes how you see people. How can I live with it?"

Jack looked at her carefully and said, "There are some things we're not supposed to know. You got a snapshot, nothing more."

Tosh then said, "I don't mean about Iris or the rest of the team… I mean the whole world… but Jack, I think we need to help Iris out…"

Jack looked at her, wondering what she was talking about.

"I read her mind by accident, and then… it seemed… it's not really my secret to tell, but I think she need someone to talk about things." Tosh said, not really telling her boss anything.

Jack took that in his mind, and smiled warmly at Tosh. He got up and walked back towards the Hub, when Tosh got a text message from Iris.

"Drink and karaoke with team?" It said.

Smiling, Tosh replied and headed to the bar that the team were at.

Chapter Text

Jack was working in his office late at night, when he received a text message from Iris. The rest of the team had went to get drinks while he had some phone calls with UNIT to do regarding the last case. It had been a long time since Iris went out, and he wished to join, until UNIT contacted him.

Once the phone call ended, Jack groaned in annoyance when his cell phone vibrated. He looked to see that he got a text message from Iris.

"Help needed. Team drunk."

Jack grinned at that. Iris always seemed to look after the entire team, even outside of missions, despite being the youngest. He got up, grabbing his coat, and headed for the SUV. The team had left it, walking all the way to the restaurant. They had initially gone to grab dinner, but it ended up being a karaoke night with drinks, and since Iris didn't enjoy drinking alcohol, she just ended up texting him.

When he arrived, he texted Iris, letting her know that he was there.

Iris looked at her phone, trying to calm Gwen and Owen down from the frenzied dance they seemed to be doing. She wasn't sure what they were doing in their drunk states, but Gwen and Owen just retaliated, making more fools of themselves as they said,

"Iris, We're fine! We're just happy and want to dance."

Iris shook her head and gave up, trying to make sure that Ianto and Tosh were ok. She still kept an eye on the other two, when she heard,

"Need a little help?"

"Jack… Thank god!" Iris muttered as she turned around to see the man behind her.

Relief flooded her eyes and she pointed to Gwen and Owen, who were drunkenly trying to sing and dance and tell jokes at the same time.

"Please do something about them." Iris pleaded.

Jack smirked and nodded while Iris first took hold of Tosh, making the woman have her arm around Iris's shoulders, and headed towards the SUV. She then quickly made her way back and brought Ianto back in a similar manner. The two were passed out from the drinks. Once she got them to sit upright, Jack was dragging a rather giggly Owen and Gwen to the SUV. Iris huffed, trying to breathe the air a bit before going into the passenger seat. Jack drove everyone back to their respective homes, having Iris drop Gwen and Tosh off, while he was in charge of Owen and Ianto. Once they were back at the Hub, Jack saw Iris stretch and yawn.

"Go to your room and rest a bit. It's been a long day."

"Ok. Let me take my meds first though." Iris said, sauntering off to her desk and grabbing a pill from the bottle it was in. She grabbed the special painkillers and took them, making sure to worry Jack less.

She then looked up, to find Jack looking at her weirdly.

"What, is there something on my face?" Iris muttered, wondering why Jack was looking at her so intently.

Jack shook his head and muttered,

"No, there's nothing. Sorry, I spaced out for a moment."

Iris nodded and headed to her room. Jack sighed in relief as he saw Iris step out of view. He was looking at her, but he also was not lying when he replied that he had spaced out; thinking about her. Jack wanted to grasp his emotions, make sure that they were in control, but it wasn't easy. And something just didn't sit well with him. It was true that Iris had been confused and asked Jack earlier about why Jack didn't let Iris work with Ianto.

Jack was unable to respond truthfully and had lied. Unlike other times when he was boldly able to claim that he loved someone, something about Iris stopped him from doing it. The fact that she fell through the Rift to this universe was probably the reason, but he wasn't sure. He was scared that he might lose Iris to some unknown cause and was terrified to confess his feelings. Sighing in frustration at himself, he headed to his room to finish up some work before heading to bed.

~…~

The next day, the team got a call from the police about a murder, and drove to the address given to them. Ianto was at the Hub, making sure everything was in order there, just in case an emergency were to arise while the rest got into the rover to head to the site. Iris was looking out the rover window, and when she spotted a familiar face, she realized that this case was about Suzie's return from death. She looked to the side at Gwen, debating if she should take the woman's place in all the events. But Suzie had, planned something, and Iris was not sure if her interference would change things drastically. She quickly stepped out of the car when the rover screeched to a halt. The rest of the team came out, wearing sunglasses and dark clothing, all except Iris. She rather hated the look that the team set up for themselves, and rebelled, wearing a blue and white striped blouse with black jeans. She also decided to have her hair up in a messy bun with black converse. It was what she was used to wearing, and preferred this look rather than the whole black and red, sunglass concept that Gwen, Owen and Tosh had.

The detective came up to the team and said,

"At last. You must be Torchwood. My team bitch about you all the time."

Jack looked warily at the woman and asked,

"And you are?"

"Detective Swanson."

"I'm Captain Jack Harkness." Jack replied.

The detective gave a look of annoyance and said, "So I've heard. Are you always this dressy for a murder investigation?"

Iris scoffed a little, which caused Detective Swanson to look at her, clearly irritated that the girl had reacted to her question.

"What, you'd rather me naked?" Jack asked Detective Swanson.

Swanson just turned around, walking closer to the crime scene, all the while muttering,

"God help me, the stories are true."

Gwen then decided to end the fight between the two people by asking,

"So who's the victim?"

Iris and the rest of the team followed the detective as the woman replied with,

"That's victims, plural. Yesterday, a man was murdered at 96 Oakham Street. Alex Arwyn, 28, single, estate agent."

With that, she handed the file to Iris instead of Jack, which surprised Iris. She had been standing a bit closer to the woman, but she didn't expect the Detective to hand her the file.

"Here we go. That's from the scene of crime. Today, in here, we get two more. Mark and Sarah Brisco, both 33, married. He's a surveyor, she works in education."

Iris looked up warily, and handed the file to Jack, not needing to look at it any more.

"What about the smears of blood? Is that writing?" Jack asked.

Iris replied quietly with, "That's why we're here."

At the same time with Detective Swanson, who said,

"Work in progress. Come inside and see the finished thing."

When they reached the bedroom, Iris immediately flinched inwardly, feeling her stomach churn in an unpleasant way at the crime scene in front of them.

Gwen gasped and squeaked out "Oh my God."

Swanson came in with them and said, "Looks like somebody wants your attention."

Jack looked at the bloody writing above the bed that said TORCHWOOD and said,

"They've got it."

Iris was taking some pictures of the crime scene for the team before helping Owen out with the forensic stuff. Meanwhile, Detective Swanson was talking to Jack as they both looked at Iris gathering some blood samples as well as trying to get other pictures such as footprints and what not.

"We found a few of the killer's hairs from the first murder. Lab results should be in soon."

Jack replied curtly with, "Good, we'll need that. Now, if you could just clear the room Some of this equipment is strictly need to know."

Swanson sighed and said, "It was only a matter of time."

Jack and the rest of the team, except for Iris, looked at Detective Swanson curiously as the woman continued with,

"Torchwood walks all over this city like you own it. Now these people are paying the price. Ordinary people, ripped apart, with your name written in their own blood. From where I'm standing, you did this, Captain Jack Harkness. You did it."

Iris grimaced a little at the truth of the beginning of Detective Swanson's statements. But she continued to gather the last piece of evidence that she needed, and stood up once the police were gone.

"Still, at least we've got a head start. If it's someone we've pissed off, that narrow it down to, oh… four or five million?"

Owen muttered, and Iris shook her head. Seeing this, Jack responded with,

"And that's just the humans. Iris, know anything? Hints?"

Iris looked up at Jack and the rest of the team, seeing their curious look and said,

"This is an episode. I know this better than some, and I'm sorry to say this, but… spoilers."

Gwen just scoffed and muttered under her breath with irritation,

"One day, that spoiler of yours will get one of us dead."

Owen immediately stood up, glaring at Gwen as he responded to that comment with,

"Oi! If there is anything that happens to any of us, Iris isn't the one to blame. She has been trying her best to help you know! She could have left us to our own devices by not joining Torchwood, so just shut-"

"OWEN." Iris dangerously said his name.

The man turned around and saw Iris looking at him, silently telling him to just leave it. He didn't understand why Iris let Gwen say rude things to her, but he quieted down and finished what he was there for. In reality, Owen didn't understand why Jack had brought Gwen. She wasn't that useful at the crime scenes at all. Owen, Tosh and Iris did all the work while Gwen just hung at the back with Jack. But he left it be, as they headed back to the Rover, when they all heard Tosh say,

"There's no record of Mister and Mrs. Briscoe on our database, not yesterday's victim, and no link between him and the Briscoes. No connection between any of them. Jack? They've got the results on the killer's hair."

The team quickened their pace as they wished to look at the file. Swanson noticed them arriving and immediately read the results out loud.

"Initial findings say Caucasian male, early 40s, smoker, drinks tequila. Doesn't match any DNA profiles. Only thing of interest is a compound we've never seen before. Recognize it?"

Owen frowned at what he was reading when he quickly grabbed the file and slightly looked panicked as he looked up at Jack and Iris.

"Uh oh, we're in trouble."

Gwen looked confused as she asked, "What is it?"

Iris responded with, "Compound B67."

Jack looked down at her and Owen, muttering, "You're kidding."

Owen shook his head and said quietly,

"Retcon. He's got Retcon in his blood."

Once the team was back at the Hub, they immediately met at the conference room. Once they were all ready, she handed Owen the files she had prepared for the team as he started with,

"B67, aka Retcon, aka the magic ingredient of the amnesia pill."

Gwen looked up at the team as she muttered, "And this belongs to us. Whoever this killer is, it's somebody we gave the amnesia pill to."

Jack looked at Iris, but she only mouthed "spoilers" again. She really couldn't indulge details at this point. She still wasn't sure how this worked. Iris was frustrated in her own right. She always divulged the details after most of the event had passed and it was safe to do so, but it was still early on. And she was sure that if other episodes weren't fixed points in time, this episode was.

Owen then asked the important question, "Is he remembering that he's a serial killer? OR is he becoming a serial killer because of the Retcon?"

Gwen's eyes widened as she whispered,

"Wait a minute, I've taken Retcon."

Iris spoke up, deciding that it was safe to release one small detail.

"From what I understand about Retcon, a regular, one-time small dosage is fine. So, Gwen, you're safe. But if someone was given repeated usage of the regular dosage of Retcon, there is a high chance of a negative side effect. It's like any other drug, use too much of it, there will be consequences."

Jack looked at her for a bit, processing that information in his head, before turning to Tosh and Ianto, asking them to narrow the list down to fit Swanson's profile. With that, they all began to stand up to start working on

Gwen then seemed to have a look on her face when she asked,

"Jack, if there is a link, why don't we just ask the victims ourselves?"

Iris froze at that and looked at the woman while Jack replied with,

"Not the right time for a séance, thank you very much."

Gwen retaliated with, "The first time I met Torchwood, you had that glove."

Jack and Iris made eye contact, and Jack said,

"No."

Having heard what Gwen said, Owen responded vehemently with,

"Not after what it did to Suzie."

Gwen, frustrated, said,

"It brings people back to life. Just for two minutes we could question the murder victims."

Owen shook his head and said,

"That's exactly what she said. She was one of us, we trusted her and now she's dead because of that thing."

Jack followed Owen up with, "The glove stays in the safe where it belongs."

As the rest of them were leaving the room, Gwen yelled after them,

"These murders are happening because of Torchwood. So Torchwood has got to do something."

Jack asked for the Iris to meet him in his office first. When they both entered the room, Jack turned around, facing Iris and asked,

"I have to use it don't I?"

Iris nodded, not wanting to verbally say yes. Jack sighed in frustration and also asked,

"Why?"

Iris looked at him, and then spoke with a conviction that Jack rarely heard her speak with.

"I don't know. Perhaps you wish to use it too, just as much as Gwen does. It really wasn't explained in the episode. You guys just decided to use it for some reason. If anything, I could give you some details, but I think we should just go with what your guys' instincts tells you."

"Which means that I follow my instincts to use the Gauntlet…"

"Yeah." Iris replied.

Jack looked at her for a bit, and then asked,

"Don't you ever want to change things up? You know, the small details here and there in this universe since you've joined?"

Iris looked back at him, hesitating a little, before replying,

"What makes you think I haven't?"

Jack's eyes widened a little at that and then, Iris continued with,

"Since the cannibals incident, Owen and Gwen are more distant towards each other than they are in the show, Owen actually is nice and listens to me,"

To which Jack chuckled, agreeing on that as Iris continued,

"And… Estelle is alive…"

Jack's smirk faded as he looked at Iris in surprise. His mind flashed back to how Iris had seemingly drowned and looked dead. If she hadn't been there for Estelle, would his former love died? That was what Iris seemed to be implying.

"You saved her…why?"

Iris looked at Jack with knowing eyes as she said,

"Because like Detective Swanson said, ordinary people sometimes die because of Torchwood."

Silence followed as Jack looked at her, realizing that the girl was holding immense amount of guilt, burden, and sorrow with the amount of knowledge she had about their futures. After a few minutes, he asked Iris to bring the team over.

Once the team came to the room, Jack set the box containing the Gauntlet down on his table.

"It fell through the Rift about 40 years ago. Lay at the bottom of the Bay till we dredged it up. I always figured this wasn't just lost. Whoever made it wanted rid of it."

Jack said.

And as the team was thinking about a name to call the Gauntlet, Iris thought about just how much it looked like the one a certain Time Lord wore in the future. The one Time Lord she was more terrified of than the Master.

Once they debated about the name, they decided to go with Tosh's choice, calling it the Resurrection Gauntlet.

Jack put on the gauntlet as he said,

"Don't forget, the maximum resurrection time is two minutes. That's only because Suzie had practice. The most we're likely to get is thirty seconds, okay? Tosh, you ready?"

As Tosh responded, Iris felt a sudden urgency within her. She had to choose if she wanted to take Gwen's place right at this moment. She didn't have time. Iris looked at Gwen for a bit, and finally decided, when Jack started the process, muttering,

"Come on, Alex. Come back."

Gwen, curious, asked, "How does it work?"

Jack responded with, "You just sort of feel, like reaching into the dark, finding the dead. I can't, I don't… Argh! Damn! Ow…"

He quickly took his hand out of the gauntlet as if he had an electric shock.

Owen looked at the corpse and said, "Nothing."

Jack looked at Owen, and said, "sorry. Never was very good with thins thing. Owen."

"Actually, I think I should do it." Iris blurted out before Owen could say anything.

She thought that if she let Owen respond, it would give Gwen time to pick up her courage to say that she would do it. Iris didn't want that and had cut into the conversation. She wasn't entirely sure if it would work with her, considering that it didn't respond with the others except for Gwen, but she desperately hoped it worked.

With that, Iris picked up the gauntlet and put it on her right hand, feeling the cool metal touch her skin. It sent shivers up her back, it felt wrong.

Jack noticed her shiver a little and responded with, "It warms up. The glove relies on some sort of empathy. May compassion and… well, just be yourself."

Iris looked at Jack, feeling nervous about what she was about to do to herself, and then gathered up the courage. She touched Alex's head, causing her to immediately gasp at the same time Alex opened his eyes in full panic.

"Somebody help me! Oh, my God. Help me, help me, help me!"

Jack immediately stepped closer to Alex, saying

"Alex, I need you to listen to me."

But the panic from the even before his death seemed to override Alex's judgements as he kept screaming,

"Somebody help me. Help me!"

Jack quickly looked at Iris, who was starting to sweat from the strain of keeping contact as long as she could. He had to hurry to figure out what happened.

"That's what we're doing. Alex, you were attacked. Do you know who it was? Who attacked you?"

The man looked at Jack, finally realizing what seemed to be going on, as he asked,

"Who are you?" Alex gasped as Jack asked

"How long?" to Ianto.

Ianto responded quickly with "15 seconds."

Alex was still panicking before he flatlined.

Owen muttered, "He's gone."

Jack put a hand on Iris's shoulder while the rest of the team gave a worried glance to Iris, who shuddered a bit before stepping away from the corpse. She breathed heavily a little bit, trying to catch her breath.

Ianto looked back at his stopwatch in amazement as he said, "Twenty four seconds."

Jack hesitantly asked Iris,

"What do you think Iris? Do you want to stop?"

Iris looked at Jack, realizing how close he was to her, before nodding a bit. She didn't want to risk handing the job to Gwen. The woman was looking at the Resurrection Gauntlet in wonder, further convincing Iris that she herself had to do it. This had to be her. The glove worked with her, so she needed it to be her instead of Gwen. She didn't really like the woman at times, but she was still part of the team.

Iris began the process once the team was ready, on the second victim, Mark Briscoe. Iris gasped again, feeling the warm sensation all over again. When Mark woke up, Jack immediately began talking,

"Hey there. Just look at me. Look me in the eye. That's it."

Mark asked, "Where am I?"

"You've been hurt. We don't have long. We need to know who attacked you."

Mark, as if in realization, started panicking, as he asked, "Is my wife alright?"

Jack quickly responded to console the man, "We're looking after her. Now, Mark, who was it?"

Mark quickly remembered and replied with, "It was that man. He belonged to Pilgrim. He went to Pilgrim."

Jack asked, "What's Pilgrim?"

Then Mark panicked as he recalled that the culprit had a knife, before calming down a bit before continuing to respond to Jack's questions.

Ianto quickly said, "35 seconds" while risking a quick glance at Iris, who was clenching her eyes to keep the contact alive.

"Max. Never knew his surname."

Owen then spoke up, "He's going."

Jack pushed a little further, saying,

"You've got to give us something more so we can catch him."

Mark responded with, "There was, there was someone who knew him better. That woman. She was always talking to him."

Jack asked,

"What was her name?"

Mark responded bitterly, realizing he was dying, as he asked, "Where's my wife?"

Jack urged, "Her name!"

Mark relented and whispered out "Suzie" before drawing his last breath.

Ianto looked up at Iris, who quickly separated herself from Mark's corpse as she sat down at the chair Owen got for her. He said, "One minute five seconds."

The team looked at each other, hoping that it really wasn't their Suzie, but not finding the courage to deny it.

Jack then stood up, and said, "We've been talking to the wrong corpse."

They then quickly all met at the conference room, as Tosh spoke,

"Pilgrim. A religious support group, more like a debating society. Meaning of life, does God exist, all that stuff. The point is, it was tiny more like a hobby, run by Mark Briscoe's wife, Sarah. She had all that stashed in the wardrobe. Handwritten and photocopied. That's why we couldn't find any records. She wasn't even online."

Jack looked at Tosh, and asked, "No mention of Suzie or Max?"

Tosh shook her head as she replied, "Not a word. She didn't even keep a register."

Owen tried to reject that it was the Suzie from Torchwood as he said,

"It wouldn't be our Suzie, though. She wouldn't go to that support group bollocks."

Gwen looked at the man and said, "How do you know? I mean, were you friends? Any of you except Iris? Who was her best friend in this place?"

Iris then spoke up, deciding to end this conversation before it fueled Gwen to say something stupid.

"She did have something to do with Pilgrim. That's all I can say about what I know."

The team looked at her incredulously, before Jack said,

"Time we got to know our deceased colleague a little better."

Iris decided to stay behind and rest a little while Ianto and Owen looked after her. Iris had gotten a little pale from the entire ordeal, and her headache started to react. Gwen, Tosh and Jack decided to go to the storage unit to get some items.

While waiting for the trio to come back, Owen muttered,

"You don't need to continue this."

Iris shook her head and said, "I have to. I… I have to make sure that it's me…"

"Why you?" Ianto asked.

Iris looked up, and said, "I don't know…"

She genuinely didn't know, but something about the people around her made her want to protect them. The longer she was here, the more she had decided to protect them.

But she quickly followed up her statement with, "I think… it… eases my guilt for whatever I cannot stop. Even if it's a miniscule amount of guilt."

Ianto and Owen looked at each other, worried that Iris was pushing herself too far, when the other members came back. They saw Jack and Gwen immediately head to the cryochamber holding Suzie, bringing her to the autopsy table. They all saw the silent question Jack wanted to ask, but Iris was already ready to use the Resurrection Gauntlet, looking determined and nervous altogether.

Owen then looked at Ianto, asking,

"Have you got your stopwatch?"

"Always." Ianto said in response.

Tosh looked warily at Suzie's corpse and said, "I'll record from my station. I'm sorry, but I don't want to look her in the eye. Sorry."

Owen looked like he wanted to go with Tosh, not really wanting to see the woman come back, but he stayed. Iris then nodded to Jack, and began the process.

Owen looked up at her, and said,

"I'm getting a reading. No, it's gone."

Iris responded with, "Just memories. Nothing living. She's too far gone."

Tosh looked down and asked, "What do we do now?"

Jack looked frustrated and said, "Nothing we can do. That's it. We're out of options."

Owen hesitantly said, "There's always the knife. When she killed all those people, she always used the knife, it's made out of the same metal as the glove."

Tosh looked at the medic and supported him with,

"We've seen it before. Metallic resonance, like the glove works better if the knife's part of the process, like closing a circuit."

Gwen then said, "Then let's use it."

Jack looked up, clearly irritated with how things were turning out and said,

"Small detail. The knife was used to kill people. She's already dead."

Gwen looked up at him and said, "All right, so we kill her again."

The knife was taken out and Jack brought it, looking at Iris, who nodded her head and said,

"You're gonna have to do it properly."

Jack looked at Owen, and then muttered, "What the hell" as he plunged the knife into Suzie's heart. Iris and Suzie gasped at the same time, a little stronger of a reaction coming from Iris as her body arched at the sensation from bringing back Suzie in that manner. Iris wanted to back down, but she continued holding the gauntlet onto Suzie's head.

Jack quickly went closer to Suzie and said, "Suzie? Listen."

Suzie gasped as she said "I've got to go. I can't stay. They know. They know."

Jack stopped her by saying, "Just look at where you are. Think back. Try to remember. Suzie. Suzie! Look at me."

Suzie finally seemed to process what had happened as she saw a new face and then Jack, finally saying,

"Jack, Oh my God. There's a knife in my chest. Did you kill me?"

Jack looked at her weirdly and said,

"You killed yourself, remember?"

Suzie then seemed to recall the incident and gasped, "But… Oh my God. I shot myself."

Jack then asked, "We've got to ask you about Pilgrim."

Suzie stared at Jack in confusion as she asked, "No. Wait a minute. Didn't I kill you?"

Jack quickly waved that off with, "Never mind that. We need names and details."

Suzie looked up, but it seemed her vision wasn't great as she tried to adjust her focus, asking Jack, "Who's using the glove?"

"Hello…I'm Iris…" Iris introduced herself.

"Didn't take you long to replace me then?" Suzie bit out.

Ianto then said, "30 seconds."

He took another glance at Iris, who was going a little pale from keeping the connection alive.

Jack also noticed this and hurried along,

"When you were in Pilgrim, you gave the amnesia pill to a man, Max. Do you remember?"

Suzie looked at him with confusion and asked,

"What? You brought me all the way back just for Max?"

Jack pushed her, asking again, "We need to find him. Who is he? What's his surname?"

Suzie just replied with, "He was just some loser."

Owen then saw the readings on the machinery and said, "We're losing her."

Iris felt the connection weakening and finally felt the fear of what was going to happen seep in. They weren't going to lose Suzie for a while, but with Iris… what with her headache coming back and the life essence shifting to Suzie… she wasn't sure how well her body would be able to take it. She tried to hold on a bit longer until an electric shock hit her.

She felt the shock go through her body and her legs give out from the pain. Jack quickly stopped her fall and slowly eased her down as Owen rushed over.

"It's all right. I've got her, I've got her. Right, here we go. Hold on. Okay, pulse. Yes, she's all right."

Owen hugged Iris a bit, and asked Jack to help her up. Jack quickly picked up the glove and said,

"It's the glove. I told you, they get hooked."

Owen just looked at the Captain and said, "All right, don't make a fuss. It's over now. We don't need it anymore."

Jack was about to help Owen move Iris to the sofa when he noticed Ianto staring at his stopwatch still.

"What? What's wrong?" Jack asked Ianto.

The Welsh man looked up and said, "I'm still counting."

Owen, not noticing the machine still measuring Suzie's heartbeat, said, "There's not much point. Suzie's dead."

Ianto refuted with, "No. According to the equipment, she's just unconscious."

Owen looked up at the machine in surprise while Jack had a sinking feeling in his stomach as he asked,

"What the hell's going on?"

Gwen then said, "Oh, my God. He's right. She's alive. Suzie's still alive. Look at her, she's still breathing."

With that, the woman quickly pulled the knife from Suzie's chest as gently as she could.

Owen stood up, handing Iris to Jack and felt for a pulse. With trepidation, he said,

"Still breathing. There's no stopping her. She won't die…"

Later that afternoon, Suzie had woken up in the interrogation room. Iris was on the sofa in the Hub and had stabilized and she was drinking tea Ianto had brewed for her. Iris tried to not look at the screen for the interrogation.

Suzie looked at Jack and Gwen, as she asked,

"How long's it been?"

Jack responded with "Three months."

Suzie then groaned and asked him,

"When can I die? I just want to go. Can't you leave me alone?"

Iris flinched a little at that. There was no way that woman actually wanted to be dead. She saw Ianto sit by her on the sofa, not sure what to think of this entire incident.

"You alright?" Ianto asked Iris.

Iris tried smiling a little, but couldn't manage to hold it. After a few seconds of silence, she just shook her head a bit.

"I'm not sure…" Iris honestly said.

She wasn't sure if she could manage this. Why had she taken Gwen's place? She cared for Gwen, but why did the gauntlet work on her?

She realized that she was tuning out the conversation the team had with Suzie, and listened in again.

"What for? What did he do? He was just an ordinary bloke." Suzie said.

Jack responded with, "We think Retcon triggered a psychosis. He's started killing."

Suzie frowned and cautiously asked, "How many victims?"

Gwen stepped in again and said, "Three. Same as you."

Owen then added in through the radio with, "We need to know. How much Retcon did you give him?"

Then they all saw Suzie look towards the camera and say,

"Owen, hello. You scared to face me?"

There was a momentary silence until Owen replied with, "You frighten the shit out of me, yeah."

Suzie then inquired about Toshiko, to which Owen defensively replied with,

"Yeah, she's here. All the gang. Happy days. But the amnesia pills, how many did you give him?"

Suzie, slightly annoyed at the continued questioning, replied nonchalantly with, "One a week, every week, for two years."

Owen looked at Tosh with realization as he said, "Christ. No wonder."

Jack, on the other hand, looked at her and asked,

"What the hell did you do that for?"

With that, the interrogation continued. Iris and Ianto were talking quietly amongst themselves, trying to be calm about the entire ordeal. Ianto was worried about Iris, she didn't look so good.

"Do you need the pills again?" He asked her.

Iris looked up at Ianto, seeing his genuine concern, her stomach seemed to churn in some type of anticipation and she nodded. She saw him get up and go towards her desk, not letting her move just quite yet. He easily found the bottle with the pills. He handed Iris the bottle. He noticed how she took two now instead of one. Owen had increased the dosage into a safe amount, as it turned out that Iris's headaches were worsening as time went by.

She smiled at him and said, "Thanks Ianto. That helps."

"Take a rest." Ianto said, and helped her lie down on the sofa, covering her with a blanket that he had fetched earlier.

With that, Iris closed her eyes, not letting her fear show through to Ianto or anyone else as sleep was not something that would be coming to her that night. Because she knew that this headache, was not just what she originally had. It was a combination of the regular headaches and Suzie's wound slowly becoming hers instead.

After Jack finished interrogating Suzie, he, Gwen and Owen went to the Wolf Bar to get Max. When they came back, Iris sat up, eyeing Suzie and Gwen closely as they headed to the interrogation room.

Iris headed to her desk and turned the camera on to listen in on them.

Suzie spoke to Gwen,

"Can't you ask Jack? Just one favor. I want to see my father."

Gwen, ever so compassionate, said, "Tell us where he is We could bring him in."

Suzie shook her head adamantly and said, "I'm not letting him anywhere near Torchwood. If he's still alive."

Gwen had a concerning look on her face as she cautiously asked,

"What's wrong with him?"

Iris felt her nervousness growing when she realized what Suzie was going to ask Gwen.

"Cancer. All that waiting, and then I go and die first."

Suzie then looked at Gwen, and further asked,

"So tell me. Since I've been gone, you enjoying it?"

Gwen remained silent for a bit until she replied with, "Yes. Sort of. Well, you know, this place is sort of…. It's mad isn't it."

Suzie chuckled weakly as she replied with, "Insane."

Gwen smirked and followed it up with, "Bloody nuts."

Iris tuned out them enjoying their time together as if they were best buddies. She hated that Gwen was so gullible in that aspect.

When Gwen came up, almost immediately storming into Jack's office, Iris snuck down to the interrogation room.

"Hello Suzie. This is our first time really talking to each other." Iris said as she sat down on the other chair carefully.

Suzie eyed her warily, and said,

"I never thought Jack would hire another person to Torchwood Three."

"Yeah, I kinda didn't really have another option."

"What do you mean?" Suzie asked.

Iris thought for a moment, before saying,

"That's for me to know, and for you to find out… if you're still alive at the end of this plan of yours."

Suzie looked at her with fake confusion, saying,

"What do you mean?"

"The gauntlet. Max and Retcon. This is planned." Iris said, leaning back on her chair.

"I'm not sure what you mean." Suzie said, fidgeting a little as she realized that someone might know what she had done.

"Me. I resurrected you. I know that you're taking my life while I'm slowly dying. Don't act with me. Don't think you can fool me that easily Suzie." Iris said, a dangerous glint coming from her eyes.

Suzie looked at her and said, "So why did you do it?"

Iris smirked and said, "Did you really think that I would let somebody get hurt when I know what could happen? I admit, I'm not that altruistic, but this was the only think I could think of before you harm anybody else."

Suzie glared at her and said, "You must be stupid to sacrifice your life so willingly."

"I'm not. Don't worry about that." Iris replied.

They glared at each other until they heard the door to the interrogation room open. Gwen was surprised that Iris was there as she cautiously brought the tray down.

"If you're thinking about taking her to see her father, I won't stop you. I have to supervise you though." Iris said to Gwen.

Gwen looked at Iris with disbelief for a short second and looked at Suzie. Iris was planning something, and she didn't feel too good about it. Suddenly, she tackled Iris, which surprised both Suzie and Iris. Iris struggled, but only allowed Gwen to bound her arms behind her back, not harshly, but enough so that Iris couldn't attack them, and then gagged her. She proceeded to drag her to her car. Then, once she locked Iris inside, she wheeled Suzie out, getting ready to make sure that nobody remained in the Hub to figure out what had happened.

Back at the Hub, the rest of the team were frantically looking for Iris when Jack ran into the interrogation room to find a note on one of the chairs from Iris. It was instructions about what to do once the Hub locked down. Jack then realized that Gwen must have taken Suzie and Iris. He began to panic and quickly grabbed the instructions Iris left and ran back to the Hub.

"Guys! Go to the parking lot! Stop Gwen from leaving!" He yelled.

The team looked up when suddenly, the lights turned off.

Owen looked around and asked, "What happened?"

Jack looked at the team as he said, "We've gone into lockdown."

"What?!" Owen asked.

Jack handed the instructions Iris had left to Tosh. They needed to get out as soon as possible.

Iris had her phone with her, in hopes that Jack would track her cell phone. When Gwen got in the car, she said,

"I'm taking you to see your dad and that's it okay? Sorry. I must be mad. Jack's not stupid. He's gonna catch us."

Suzie took a quick glance at Iris, who was sweating slightly and smirked, as she said,

"Oh, you never know. We might get lucky."

With that, Gwen drove off to head for the hospital Suzie's father was in. After about 30 minutes, Iris really started to feel the pain in the back of her head along with a severe headache. The medication had not helped at all. She grimaced slightly, which caught Gwen's attention. Gwen frowned and asked,

"You ok there, Iris?"

Iris merely glared at Gwen.

Gwen then talked to Suzie about driving at night. The music Gwen turned on loudly allowed Iris to fidget a bit. That was when she turned around and saw the door lock of the car. She scooted back and then tried to reach for the lock. It strained her arm to do so, but she managed to unlock it without having Suzie and Gwen notice. Then she struggled to get the gag off of her. Once she managed, she breathed heavily for a bit. Iris went back to grab the handle of the door, which was now unlocked, and said out loud,

"Gwen, stop the car NOW."

Gwen looked back at Iris through the mirror with shock and said determinedly,

"No. This time, you have to listen to me. Suzie deserves to see her father. And that's final."

"Gwen, if you don't stop this car, I will jump out of it. So stop driving and pull over!" Iris threatened.

"Iris, please…" Suzie said in a sickening tone.

Iris glared at her, silencing the woman before she could continue talking.

Gwen felt annoyed at Iris. Couldn't she really understand that Suzie needed her father? She tried to persuade Iris to calm down.

"Iris…"

"Gwen, Suzie is lying to you. This has to stop. So stop this car!" Iris yelled.

Gwen, who had never heard Iris yell like that before, felt something close to anger and retaliated by speeding the car up just a tiny bit. She thought that Iris wouldn't jump out no matter what. But she was wrong.

In that moment, Iris closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as she opened the door and kicked herself out of the car backwards.

"IRIS!" Gwen yelled as she quickly pulled over.

The moment Iris's body came in contact with the road, she felt like her entire body had shattered. All she could do was roll and tumble as the inertia from the car was still interfering with her system. When she felt herself stop, she staggered out a little breath in pain as she lay on her side. Everything ached and it felt like something broke. She saw Gwen's form run towards her, the lights from the car blinding her.

She then felt the blood flow from her head. She must have hurt her head when she jumped out. She inwardly cursed as her arms strained from remaining bound to her back. Iris also realized that she couldn't hear anything that Gwen seemed to be saying.

But whatever adrenaline was pumping through Iris, it allowed her to stand up with help from Gwen. The woman had undone her bounds, which freed Iris's arms. She then managed to painfully trudge over to Suzie and got her out of the car.

"Get. Out." She said through her teeth.

She managed to push Suzie to the ground, realizing that Suzie was still weak. But after Suzie was dragged out of the car, Iris felt her legs give out, and soon enough, she lost consciousness.

A pair of arms grabbed her and stopped Iris's body from falling hard onto the road. Gwen panicked upon seeing Iris bleeding from her head. She then heard Suzie curse Iris for a moment before laughing like a maniac. That's when she realized that Suzie truly had been lying to her as Suzie explained to her what had happened. Gwen saw red when she heard Suzie say that Iris will be living in her once she fully got all of Iris's life energy.

That was when the rover screeched to a halt and Jack and Owen ran out. They were able to catch up thanks to the instructions Iris had left. Jack ran up to Suzie's body and shot her. When Suzie chuckled as she realized that she couldn't die, he said,

"How much more of this do you want?"

Suzie looked at him with some evil glee as she said,

"It's all your fault, Jack. You recruited me."

Owen was looking after Iris, who was severely injured as Gwen talked to the police, who had arrived.

Jack then instructed Tosh and Ianto to destroy the gauntlet, which then caused Suzie to yell again.

When the connection broke, Suzie fell back to the ground, finally dead, but Iris didn't seem to respond.

"Jack! She's still not responding!"

Jack quickly turned around in shock. He ran up to Iris and grabbed her scratched and bruised hand, whispering to her,

"Please… Iris… come back…"

~…~

Iris had gone into the ER through the ambulance. Owen stopped Jack from following her into the room.

"Jack… we need to wait here."

Jack calmed down a little bit and Owen saw just how distraught his boss was. They waited for Iris's operation to finish. When the doctor came out, he let them know that Iris was alright.

Iris felt the blackness of death. It was as she had expected. Or at least she thought so. She saw the emptiness and felt it. Until something seemed to tug at her heart. She turned around but saw nothing until she heard a voice, causing her blood to freeze. The voice only uttered one word repeatedly, but it terrified her to the core. The voice muttering,

"Zagreus…"

Iris opened her eyes, clearly scared, only to find herself sore. She looked around slowly to find someone sitting in a chair by her bed.

It was Jack. He was sleeping, having clearly tired himself out from the recent events. Iris looked at him, noticing how peaceful he seemed in his sleep. She fidgeted to stretch a bit. She tried to do it quietly, but she noticed Jack wake up.

"Iris?" He whispered.

"Jack…" Iris responded, her voice cracking a little.

"Water?" Jack asked, automatically reaching for the glass of water.

Iris nodded. She drank a bit, before grimacing and needing to lie back down a bit more comfortably.

"How are you feeling?" Jack asked.

"Sore all over... But I will be fine." Iris said.

"Stop…" Jack said in a painful voice.

"Jack?" Iris asked, confused.

She looked at him to find him looking at her intensely. She felt her heart beat faster at that. He reached his hand out, touching her cheek, before grabbing her hand, bringing it up to his lips. He just held it there tightly, as if he was afraid that she might disappear. Iris didn't move, her breathing quickening at the gesture. She waited for him.

Iris heard Jack's voice shake slightly as he managed to say,

"I thought I really lost you this time. I- I don't think I want to go through that again…"

Iris's eyes widened as she saw something in Jack's eyes. It was so intense, so filled with relief and guilt that she wasn't sure what to say in response.

"It's not your fault." Iris managed to say.

Jack looked at her, and said, "It is. Only if… only if I hadn't agreed to that gauntlet…"

"Jack." Iris said, making him stop.

He looked at her, seeing her determined face again. Despite the scratches on her face, she seemed so sure of what she was going to say. His heart tugged, not sure what he wanted to do or say.

"Jack, I chose to do this. You need to make sure you understand that. I will choose to do certain things in the future. But, that's not your fault. None of it is."

Jack looked at her and said,

"You keep throwing yourself into danger. You're not like me. I don't want you to continue doing this. Please…"

Iris waited for him to continue, but she wasn't sure she believed what she heard.

"I don't want to lose you Iris… I… I love you." Jack said to her, looking at her, waiting for her to respond.

Iris's eyes widened in surprise. Her hand automatically gripped Jack's a bit from the shock. But she kept eye contact with Jack, looking for something. She also tried to think logically through this, but she couldn't. Her heart raced, she felt a tingling sensation of joy upon Jack's confession. She couldn't help but look at the man who had just claimed to love her.

She then whispered out, "Jack… I…"

Iris wasn't sure what she felt, but the conflict she felt with what should happen and what she wanted started to clash. He was supposed to be with Ianto. But Iris realized that she wanted to be with Jack. Something about Jack right now wanted her to hug him, reassure him that she was going to be with him as long as she could. And then, before she could stop herself, she said,

"I love you too."

Chapter Text

The team had just come back from the incident with Gwen being saved by Eugene. It was funny, really that they had never noticed that the item that Gwen was investigating actually led to his spirit saving her. They never thought that Gwen would be so adamant about an investigation, but it finally happened, and they felt a little bit more comfortable with her around them. For some reason, this case helped her finally grow up in the realm of working in Torchwood.

Jack saw Tosh and Owen head over together to Iris’s room. She had been discharged a while back, but he and Owen had suspended her from field work since she was still recuperating. However, they realized that the medication that Owen had increased the dosage of, was slowly not helping her headaches. She wasn’t deathly ill. She could still function and work, but her mood increasingly became unstable, and they could not approach her as naturally as they did before until she finally snapped.

With that, Jack also noticed how Iris avoided him altogether after that time when he confessed. He wasn’t sure why she was avoiding him, but he decided to wait. He was in his office when he noticed Iris coming up to the Hub, carrying a bowl of pasta in her hands as she came in.

With nothing much to do, she had resorted to cooking and whatever distracted her. Being stuck in the past, she sometimes vented her anger out by furiously ranting about anything that got in her way. It was actually funny to watch her rant at a poor box of pizza when it had been lying on her desk because Owen had placed it there momentarily.

Jack smiled, and got up, saying,

“Hey Iris, how were you?”

Iris looked up, and quickly ducked her head, mumbling,

“Miserable.”

Owen frowned a little. He had also noticed how Iris avoided long conversations with Jack. What had the man done? An awkward silence filled the Hub until Ianto coughed a little and said to Iris,

“How about, we watch that movie you talked about?”

Iris looked up at Ianto and smiled. She nodded and bounded back towards her room, leaving the team there. Owen and Tosh looked back and forth from Jack and Ianto, aware that there was a type of love triangle going on. Gwen was the only one who was not aware of it from the entire team, and thank goodness she didn’t know. If she had, the gossip would have been difficult to bear.

Ianto, slowly made his way to Iris’s room to watch the movie. Jack on the other hand, went to his office to bury himself in work, slightly dejected from Iris avoiding him again. Once he was out of sight, Toshiko and Owen sighed heavily from the tension. They glanced at each other when they realized how ridiculous the situation had become, and giggled a little. They couldn’t believe their eyes at first when they both realized how the two men fell for Iris. And now, behind the scenes, they would giggle and act like a fangirl and fanboy, trying their best to hide from internally screaming with feelings when the trio acted a certain way.

After the movie ended Iris came back out immediately and started washing the dishes, making sure to take turns with Ianto every time they did so. At this point in time, Owen, Tosh and Gwen had already gone home, so the only other person left in the Hub was Jack. She tried to distract herself by not thinking about the incident from the hospital. She clearly remembered saying

“I love you.”

back at Jack, but she immediately apologized and told the man to think nothing more of it. Since then, she has been avoiding him in part because she was terrified of what should happen and what she wanted. Even then, she wasn’t entirely sure about what she wanted. She had never really felt this way towards a man before. Jack had given her space, and she noticed that he had backed off, but something kept making her feel guilty. As if she didn’t deserve this. And as if it would all come to an end for her before she had the chance. So why hurt Jack at all if she was not sure of the future?

But what she and the team didn’t know, was that her thoughts, emotions, and judgment were all becoming muddled due to her headaches.

Couple days later, the Rift had been active again. Iris pinpointed the location to be at a certain airfield and got them cleared to receive the people who were to arrive. Iris took a glance at Owen, knowing that the man could get too attached to Diane in this version of reality. It didn’t sit well with her to do what she planned, but she was ready to do it. For Owen. She remained at the Hub, waiting patiently for the team, still trying to get her mind sorted.

By the time Jack, Owen, Gwen, and the people who stepped into the wrong time arrived, Iris sighed and got up to welcome them. As she stood up, she heard the alarm blaze to indicate their arrival, which was then followed up with,

“There’s no need to be frightened.” By Jack.

She heard the man ask who they were, which Jack replied with,

“The least you know about us, the better. Meet the team.”

Iris noticed how Jack looked at her, nodding in her general direction. She introduced herself.

“Hello, I’m Iris.”

Then the rest of the team introduced themselves along with the three people. Iris took a sidelong glance at Owen, who seemed to be slightly disinterested in Diana. Iris frowned when Diane tried flirting on Owen, but only got some sort of ‘help me’ look he gave towards Tosh.

“Tosh, is there something going ono between you and Owen?” Iris whispered.

Tosh looked at Iris a little nervously and said,

“I asked him out on a date…. Well, a beer really. We just got a bit closer, and I finally seem to have gained a little courage… that’s all. Don’t. Make. Anything. Out. Of. This!” Tosh said, blushing a little.

Iris smirked and said, “Don’t worry. I won’t tell a soul about this.”

Tosh shook her head, knowing that somewhere in Iris’s mind, a little version of Iris was screaming in joy, just like she almost had when Iris had first met Torchwood.

Iris looked at the conference room to find that Jack was talking with their visitors. She wasn’t sure what to feel about the new course of development. Everything seemed to change bit by bit, and she was beginning to feel out of place. She especially didn’t want to involve herself in the conversation that the visitors seemed to have with the other members. The talk about being out of time was getting at her.

Ianto noticed how distraught Iris seemed to be getting as she was actively avoiding helping the people who had fallen through the Rift. It wasn’t really like Iris to ignore anyone. Within the time the team got to know Iris better, she always seemed to jump in place to help people out. But after the incident with Suzie, Iris looked almost like she was haunted.

There were clearly black circles under her eyes and she wasn’t eating as much for the past few days. She was slowly losing weight and became more withdrawn to herself. She no longer really talked to them much, and enjoyed being alone more than ever. The once lively and curious Iris had disappeared. It hurt Ianto that she seemed to be holding everything in. All the knowledge of their futures along with probably suffering from the trauma of almost dying multiple times. He wished he could help, but he didn’t know quite what to say to her. He had hoped that Jack would ask her questions or if he hadn’t, that the captain would notice the change in Iris. But nothing seemed to take place.

Suddenly, the team stopped talking to Diane, Emma and John when Iris spoke up.

“Emma and Diane can stay at my place.”

Jack looked at her in surprise and asked,

“When did you buy a place to stay in?”

Iris looked at him calmly, and quietly replied with,

“After… getting out of the hospital.”

The team carefully looked at Jack to notice a look of hurt flash across his face before it completely disappeared.

“But that was a while back…”

Iris looked downwards and said, “I didn’t get to move yet. But I managed to scrounge up a bed, sofa, and some other necessary furniture. The decorations are not done yet, but I can take them and how them around. It is a woman’s house, so I’m not sure if John wants to stay with them since it’s a small place.”

Jack just looked at Iris calmly with an unreadable face and said,

“That should be better for all of us for a while as they settle down. That way, we can find better places for them to get adjusted to.”

With that, Iris helped the women out with Ianto. The man had volunteered, and Jack knowingly agreed. If anybody else were to stand by Iris’s side, Jack wanted it to be Ianto.

Once everything was settled down, Ianto drove them to Iris’s new home. Curiosity seemed to spark questions from Diane and Emma. But Iris visibly flinched when Emma asked,

“Where are you from Iris?”

Ianto felt nervous, waiting for Iris to break down. But Iris gave Emma a sad smile and replied with,

“I come from a different time and place too.”

Emma and Diane looked shocked and they pried a bit with more questions.

“Are you from the past too?”

Iris shook her head in reply with, “No, I’m from the future. I seem to have come to Cardiff from the United States.”

“Wasn’t it difficult to get adjusted to the past then?”

Iris once again shook her head, saying “Not really. I grew up in this time. It’s just the fact that I’m living in Cardiff from scratch that caught me by surprise.”

“But wouldn’t your current existence clash with your past self?” Diane finally asked.

Iris’ eyes dimmed a little, almost as if her life was snuffed out for a moment. Ianto genuinely became worried when a glint came back and she smiled again, responding with,

“I’m not from this universe. I… come from a different Earth. A parallel universe. I don’t know why… and maybe, once the right man comes along, he could explain it to me. Even if a little.”

Suddenly, Iris chuckled a little, as if she was just exhausted, as she continued,

“But then again. I highly doubt that he will figure it out until it’s a little too late…”

Ianto, at this point, wanted to genuinely stop the car and hug her so that he could comfort her. But considering how fragile Iris’s mental state seemed to be as time passed, he wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. It seemed that Diane and Emma caught on with the tension in the car that the topic was not a great one. Here they were, struggling with the concept of traveling out of their own time. But in front of them, there was a woman who was ripped out of her own universe, in a different time, different place, living every day, not complaining.

Diane and Emma stayed with Iris as she helped them out. It seemed that Ianto had been helping Iris move without letting Jack know. So instead of heading back to the Hub, Iris stayed at the house she had bought while John was given a place of his own in a hostel as of now.

Iris looked at the women’s reactions as they looked around the house. Awe was clearly written in their faces. The place had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, one spacious living room, one office room, one living room and a kitchen with a small table. Originally, Iris intended to get a smaller place, but considering her relationship with the team, if somebody became too drunk, they would need another place to stay where she might be able to look after them. Although, she wasn’t sure if she had the strength to be able to do that anymore.

“I’m sorry that it’s not completely furnished yet. I got the basic stuff that I needed, and thankfully, I got a place with two bedrooms.”

Diane looked at Iris and smiled warmly, saying

“It’s great. Compared to when we’ve slept in barracks, this can be considered heaven.”

Iris smiled and allowed them to choose the room they wanted.

“I can sleep on the sofa for the night. It’s comfy and it was meant to allow people to sleep on it, so don’t worry about that. If you need anything, wake me up or look around the house. I haven’t really settled in so there’s not much. We can go shopping for whatever we need soon.”

Iris said, looking at Emma, who was taking out her stuff with a sad look in her eyes. She noticed a white floral dress with pink stripes and said,

“That’s a really pretty dress.”

Emma looked at her as she put some of her clothes into the rack nearby meant for clothes and replied with,

“Thank you. I made it myself.”

Iris looked at her and then asked,

“Sorry, I didn’t catch what happened in the Hub. If it’s not rude to ask, where are you from?”

Emma cautiously said, “Bristol.”

Iris then further asked,

“What were you going to Dublin for?”

Emma responded,

“Auntie Nora’s ill and Uncle Finn can’t manage the children. It’ll be good practice for when I have children of my own, Mum says.”

Emma’s voice trembled ever so slightly as she continued with,

“She’s gone next door so Uncle Finn can telephone. She’ll know I’m missing by now.”

Iris noticed how Emma truly looked younger than she did as Emma hugged her teddy bear. It wasn’t something easily noticeable, but the girl’s innocence truly seemed to reflect how much time has changed the women’s roles in the world.  Iris remained silent, unsure of what to say when Emma spoke again.

“What will she think happened? It must have been like one of those murders where they never find the body.”

Iris cautiously replied with,

“They seemed to think the plane went down in the sea…”

Emma noticed how Iris looked utterly depressed for a moment and saw the girl rubbing her wrist again, as if she was doing it absent-mindedly. Then, as if she woke up from a trance, Emma saw Iris smile and quickly help out Diane with her things.

Once Emma seemed to have fallen asleep, Diane was surprised to see a brown, glass bottle being handed to her.

“Here, it’s not really that alcoholic, but this is what I can stomach without grimacing much.”

Diane here Iris say.

She looked at the label and the drink turned out to be alcoholic apple cider. She raised an eyebrow with a silent question.

“I don’t know about what you would like, but it seemed that you wanted alcohol. I don’t really drink, so this is all I have.”

Diane smiled a little bit and graciously took the bottle and drank from it, noticing the sweet taste of the apple cider. She enjoyed the flavor and calmly drank it. She noticed Iris not drinking anything but water.

“You’re helping us out… why?” Diane asked.

Iris looked up at Diane and hesitantly replied.

“I… I guess I understand a part of what you are feeling. The major differences between us being that I come from the future, but to a time I’m familiar with and a different universe while you guys came from the past to the future, in which everything just seems vastly… different from what you may be used to.”

Diane looked at her and asked further,

“But that’s not the only reason. You could have just been nice to us and let us stay at the hostel with John, but you insisted we stay here.”

“Because I know how terrifying it is to start from scratch in a place where you don’t really exist.”

Diane looked up at the younger girl in shock. She really didn’t expect that reply.

“Tell me about your universe. How different is it?”

With that, Iris indulged the woman with information about her world, avoiding the part that this universe was part of her favorite tv show. The woman had just traveled through the Rift and they didn’t need any more stressful information about how they were not real from the place she came from.

Once Diane excused herself for the night, Iris sighed almost in exhaustion and relief together. Her hands trembled uncontrollably as she tried to stand up from the sofa. She barely managed to hoist her body weight up. Sifting through her bag, she found her medications that she had packed for the night and took the pills. She quickly plopped down to the sofa, lying on her back trying to calm down. From time to time, Iris noticed that her condition was getting worse. Occasionally, her hands would tremble as they do, or her temperature would go up and her body about to give out. Owen had forbidden her from going outside onto the field when he first found out after a couple of days she had been discharged. The two of them were working late when he saw her hand tremble uncontrollably. He immediately redid her health physical and realized just how useless the pain medications for her migraines had become.

Now, Iris just merely continued living with the ever-continuously throbbing migraine with new medications to help her overall body to stabilize and lessen the effects. She had forced Owen to keep this a secret between the two of them. That was why the team thought that she was suspended from field work because she was recuperating. This was another reason why she had been avoiding Jack. Her wish to be with him was overshadowed by her uncertainty that she would even be able to live through this season.

It honestly scared her. She didn’t really want to die. But another corner of her mind terrified her even more. The word Zagreus haunted her with nightmares. She wasn’t sure why she heard Rassilon’s voice reach out to her and call her Zagreus. Why of all times, did she hear that when she had momentarily died? That encounter left her even more desperate to meet the Doctor. But even then, doubt crept into her mind as she thought,

‘How can I even ask him about this? Am I insane?’

Iris sighed out loud, feeling frustrated and terrified as the medication kicked in and lulled her to sleep.

The next day, Ianto picked all three women up from Iris’s place and drove them to the Hub. Once they arrived, Ianto led Diane and Emma to talk with Gwen and Jack while Iris headed straight towards Owen.

He noticed how Iris quickly grabbed Owen’s arm and dragged him out to talk with him in secret. Ianto frowned and looked at Jack, noticing that as he conversed with the three people who held their new passports, Jack was glancing towards the area Iris and Owen had went with an unreadable expression.

“Iris? What’s wrong?”

Owen asked, worry creeping into him.

“This! This is happening. Again.” Iris bit out as she showed Owen her trembling hands.

Owen looked at Iris’s hands and didn’t know what to say.

“The medications stopped working…didn’t it?”

Iris nodded and slammed a fist to the wall in frustration. Owen tried to comfort her when she said,

“I’m scared Owen…”

Owen looked at Iris and hugged her, feeling utterly useless. Why couldn’t he find a way to help her? It was his job as the Torchwood medic to be able to help her, but she was physically deteriorating right in front of his eyes.

They stayed like that for a moment, before Iris breathed in and out a couple of times and headed back to the Hub. Her trembling had passed and she tried to act like nothing had happened. Owen warily watched her go before heading to the autopsy area.

Later, Ianto and Iris took John, Diane and Emma to the supermarket nearby. When they got out of the car, Ianto said,

“I’d suggest you use 25 pounds for your food and then 20 pounds for luxuries like cigarettes, magazines…”

Emma cut in with,

“My dad only made 10 pounds a week.”

Ianto glanced at Iris with a gentle smirk and said,

“Things are a lot more expensive now.”

The automatic doors opened and Diane gaped at the doors in wonder as she asked,

“How did it do that?”

Iris replied with, “It’s automatic. It knows you’re there.”

Diane looked at her and asked, “But how?”

Iris began to reply with, “There are wave bouncing detectors which emit radio waves and then look for reflections-”

Diane saw a pile of bananas and she and Emma ran into the supermarket with excitement as Diane exclaimed

“Bananas!”

Iris pouted a little, her cheeks puffing up with air and a look of disappointment on her face. Ianto didn’t miss that look and laughed, as he said jokingly,

“Of course, bananas are far more interesting. Ow!”

Ianto muttered a little when Iris punched him in the arm with exasperation and stormed off, huffing and muttering about how everyone but her seems to like bananas and that it’s all some doctor’s fault. He chuckled a little and watched her follow Diane and Emma, until he realized that John looked at him for a moment with a knowing look. Ianto coughed a little when John said,

“Look at all this. We’d just come off rationing in ’53.”

Ianto looked at the man and replied with,

“Yeah, sorry. We are a consumer society.”

“It’s bloody fantastic.” John said, as he pat Ianto on the shoulder and headed off to look around.

Emma was looking around the candy aisle glanced at Iris and asked,

“How much money have I got left?”

Iris momentarily scanned Emma’s basket and said, “15 pound 40.”

Emma smiled widely and then started shoving various chocolates and sweets into her basket and Iris shook her head, laughing as she said,

“12 pounds ten. You’ll ruin your teeth.”

Emma playfully glared at Iris and responded with, “You sound like mum.”

“I’ve heard that plenty of times.” Iris said, still laughing.

Once Emma was done shoving her basket with sweets they locked arms and headed towards Diane, who was scanning the DVDs as she said,

“They sell films in boxes and you can watch them at home.”

Emma had a dreamy look on her face and said, “I love going to the pictures.”

That seemed to prompt Diane to look at Iris, and Iris looked at her with surprise at the puppy eyes the woman seemed to make. Groaning, Iris scanned the contents in Diane’s bag, and said,

“You have enough money. Go ahead.”

Excitedly, the two women chose the movies they wanted to watch and put it into their respective baskets. Emma then saw makeup and quickly pranced over, grabbing Iris by the arm. Emma looked very excited and pulled the very same puppy face that Diane had made earlier as she said,

“Super Excel Waterproof Luscious Lashes Mascara. I’ve got to have that!!!”

Iris just looked at how big Emma’s eyes became, and groaned again, falling for the trick as she just nodded. Emma hugged Iris with what seemed like super strength and said,

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Iris huffed a little, trying to act like she was not happy about it. But inside, she was happy. Something about Emma sparked happiness into Iris that she seemed to have lost in the past few days.

As Iris was helping to bag the contents of Emma’s sweets and other items, she glanced up to see Diane’s perplexed face as she asked Iris and Ianto,

“What does that mean?”

Iris looked at the box of cigarettes Diane was holding up for them and almost laughed out loud at what the it said: Smoking Kills.

Ianto looked at Iris for help with the situation and noticed how Iris was trying hard not to laugh out loud. She was trying to hold it all in and Ianto looked back at Diane’s puppy face and couldn’t pick up the courage to tell her everything. Eventually he just waived it off as best as he could.

Once they were back in the car, Ianto drove them all back, noticing how Iris gave up the passenger seat to John and sat in the back with Diane and Emma, talking with them about trivial things. When he was driving by the Millennium Stadium, John asked Ianto to stop, saying,

“I’m just going to take a look at the stadium. You girls stick together now. I’ll be back for supper.”

They all then decided to drop John’s things off at the hostel first. Emma then met up with a few girls. Emma asked her if she could talk and hang out with the other girls, Iris remembered from the show as ones that introduced Emma out to the modern world more, and agreed.

“Call me if you’re going out though. I want to know where you’re going, just in case something happens.”

Emma smiled and nodded. Iris then led Diane to the Hangar. Diane ran over to her plane and patted it, happy to be with what she loved best.

“Hello, old girl. Did you miss me?”

Iris smiled softly, a little jealous of how Diane had something so dear left with her in this strange setting.

Iris then curiously asked while Diane tuned up her plane,

“So, how did you get interested in flying?”

Diane looked at her and said,

“Ferried planes during the war. Of course, when it was over, we were supposed to revert to being dutiful wives and daughters. But I’d got a taste for it. No pig-headed man tells me what to do.”

“Damn straight.” Iris replied, smiling a bit more. And then out of curiosity, she asked again,

“Sky Gipsy?”

Diane looked at her plane again and replied with,

“After the engine. The De Havilland Gipsy Six, a work of genius. Tuned with a higher compression ratio so it can squeeze far more energy from its air fuel mixture.”

Diane then looked back at Iris with her puppy-eye face again, asking the younger girl,

“Can I take her up?”

Iris grimaced a little and shook her head as she responded,

“Unfortunately, not yet. Torchwood hasn’t organized anything with you yet to get a modern license. The thing with flying is that there are more commercial and private flights that need to be tracked more for safety measures. If something goes wrong, you could get arrested and that would complicate things even further. Torchwood can’t cover everything, sadly.”

Diane looked a bit crestfallen at that information as she said, “Oh…. Bugger.”

Iris then said,

“But we can get started on helping you out with that license as soon as possible. That’s what we are here for. After all, now you get less insults for being a pilot as a woman.”

Diane gently smiled, disappointment still clear in her eyes as she said,

“Well then, we should start that thing soon. I want to learn all about this new world.”

Iris smiled and helped her get back to a restaurant for a meal. The food and options surprised Diane a little bit, since Iris took her to a buffet. Diane had stuffed herself in awe and joy and Iris laughed a lot, seeing how Diane resembled a hamster trying to fit as much food into its mouth at once. Iris had then dropped Diane off back at her place. She was helping sort more of Iris’s stuff out in the home when Iris got a phone call from Jade, one of the girls back from the hostel about Emma fighting with John.

Iris looked up at Diane, who was cleaning some of the cutlery, and said,

“I’m really sorry, but I have to fetch Emma from the hostel. She and John seem to be fighting.”

Diane looked up at her with concern in her eyes and said,

“You should get her before anything bad happens. Emma seems like a delicate girl.”

Iris nodded and quickly grabbed her keys and headed for the car Ianto had left behind for her. She quickly drove over to find Emma demanding to John,

“And why should I listen to you?”

Iris quickly called out to her, “Emma.”

The girl ignored her as she fumed at John, losing her temper.

“Only my dad gets to talk to me like that, and I’m never going to see him again, am I? Or my mum, or my best friend, or my dog. And I miss them. And I hate this filthy, stinking place!”

Emma tried to storm out, but Iris quickly grabbed her arm and whispered to the fuming girl,

“Emma, we’re going to go back to my place, but you have to gather up whatever you have here. Ok? Go, to the front, I’ll meet you there and we can drive over.”

Emma nodded and hurried out.

Iris looked at John, who muttered to her,

“I never had this sort of trouble with my son.”

Iris then said,

“You all are having a tough time. It’s a strange new world for you all and getting used to all this? Well, it’s not easy. You lose everything you knew and believed in and it’s going to take time. It might never end, the pain of losing all of it at once in such an unbelievable way. But this is it. John, you have to let her go. The time is different, she has to make sure she can grow up and live on her own now. Not even Torchwood can support her for the rest of her life. She has to make her own life here in this new time and place. And you trying to implement your beliefs onto another person won’t help either of you.”

John glared at her and questioned her with,

“How would a girl like you know?”

John shivered a little at the sudden change in demeanor Iris had. The girl’s eyes narrowed and her lips pursed, as she calmly and coldly said,

“Because what you are going through is nothing like the pain I feel. I not only fell through time, but I also fell through another universe. A world where all of this is impossible. Where I could have turned a blind eye to everything and not risk my life for any of the people here. But I didn’t. I don’t expect anybody to understand what that’s like to not even be known by a single person in a whole new universe. I don’t expect to lose that pain. I live with it daily, the throbbing pain in my head? That’s a daily reminder that I’m not from here. That I’m never going to be truly home. Because this is where I’m not supposed to be. But you? All you did was fall through time. You existed. You can turn a blind eye to everything here. So, stop whining.”

With that, Iris calmly left the hostel building with Emma. The other girl noticed that Iris was not happy with whatever conversation she had had with John. Emma was quiet for the entire ride. By the time they arrived at Iris’s place, the Torchwood agent seemed to be in a better mood. When they went in, Diane was sleeping in her room and Emma headed for her own. Iris sat at the sofa after cleaning up after herself. She quickly looked at the airfield contacts and booked for Diane’s practical license exam as soon as possible.

After doing that, she sighed and stared blankly at nothing in particular. She had taken her medication, and she felt alright, numb even, but talking to John earlier opened up a flurry of emotions that she had locked up when she had arrived here. The three people’s arrival had threated to open up those emotions, but talking with the man really did her in. And the brief moments of her laughter from earlier that day faded as she was reminded of those she had left behind without knowing whether she was just gone from her universe, or dead.

The next day, Diane and Emma were left with Owen and Tosh. Iris had decided to go in for work to get Diane’s written exam score ready. Iris was able to fake the exams so that Diane already had a good enough score to fly her plane once the woman passed her practical exam. Diane had, after much persuasion from Iris, decided to study for the written exam so that she could take it to get a legitimate score with Ianto proctoring the exam. Once they scored her exam, she would have a legitimate license made by Torchwood then.

On the other hand, Jack decided to help out with John. Gwen was at the Hub for a while before helping Tosh out with Emma since Tosh didn’t have her own car at the moment. Ianto and Iris were the only two then left at the Hub. Ianto was archiving more files that Jack had strewn around while Iris was making sure that the paperwork for John, Diane and Emma were being finalized. Tosh had almost finished, but Iris decided to do the last finishing touches as she had a better understanding of what Diane and Emma were like.

It had been about 1pm when Ianto brought Iris’s coffee up to hear a crashing noise from the Hub. He hurried up to find Iris supporting herself by the autopsy table, holding onto her chest with labored breathing. He quickly and carefully set his cup down the nearest flat surface and ran over to her.

“Iris? What’s going on?” He asked, almost panicking himself at the sudden change in Iris’s health.

“Owen…” was all Iris could wheeze out, stumbling into Ianto, who held her up with one arm while hurriedly calling Owen.

“Owen? Yeah, Iris is struggling to breathe. You have to come NOW. I don’t know! I came up to find her like this. Yes, she’s still conscious. Hurry!”

With that, Ianto hung up and quickly helped Iris sit down. He quickly followed the instructions Owen had gave him with helping Iris out, but he couldn’t’ do much without the Torchwood medic.

Within 15 minutes, Iris calmed down a little bit, but had become unconscious from the medications. She was hooked into the machinery and Ianto waited for Owen. When the door opened, Owen came rushing in with Diane and Jack.

“What the hell happened?” Jack asked Ianto.

Ianto merely shook his head and muttered,

“I don’t know.”

“Oh my goodness.” Diane muttered, seeing how pale and sickly Iris had suddenly become.

“Owen, how is she?” Jack asked the medic.

Owen was looking at the information the machinery provided for him and hurriedly put some more injections into the woman and said,

“Ianto got to her in time. I didn’t think that this would become this bad… I had taken her off of field work because of this… and yet-”

“What?” Jack asked, his voice rising with anger.

Owen looked up with wide eyes as he realized that he slipped up. He looked back at the prone form of Iris and back at his boss as he said,

“Her condition has gotten worse lately. She’s barely eating, barely sleeping. She’s almost becoming unresponsive to medications regarding her migraines. Her body is slowly failing. This is the first time this attack has happened.”

Owen then looked up at Diane and asked the lady,

“Did you see her in severe pain while you were with her?”

Diane tried to think back and then she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but whatever she felt, she was really good at hiding it from us.”

“Damn it!” Owen muttered.

Ianto glanced at Jack, who had fallen silent after Owen’s explanations. He saw pain reflected in the captain’s eyes. Ianto then looked back at Iris, going near her and holding the girl’s hand in his own. He felt pain wash over him too as he realized that all those times he had been offering her old medication, she had been taking them to ease his mind for his sake. His heart felt like they were tearing apart. Why did he feel this way? Why did Iris have to suffer so much for just falling into this universe? Why her?

All these questions were also plaguing Jack’s mind. But Jack, after looking at Iris’s pale face for a while, headed towards his office, needing something strong to drink. He thought back to how Iris had been avoiding him and felt regret. Was this why she had been avoiding him? He didn’t know the answer to the question, but he sincerely hoped that she would talk to him about something. Anything.

Diane and Owen were talking at the side, seeing how Ianto never left Iris’s side.

“He loves her doesn’t he?” Diane asked Owen, seeing Ianto’s sad look.

Owen responded with,

“Yeah. But it’s complicated.”

Diane didn’t push further on that topic, but said,

“I wanted to show her that I had passed the practical exam. I wanted to see her smile again. She really helped us out.”

Owen looked at Diane and smiled tiredly as he said,

“She has that effect for people. Ever since she fell through the Rift just like you did, she has tried to save and help a lot of people. She really has you know. But Iris tends to bottle everything up regarding her own pain. And there’s really nothing we can do about her current condition. We don’t know what it is that’s causing this, but we… we’re all feeling pretty useless in having to see her deteriorate like this.”

Diane nodded in understanding as the two listened to the machinery beep in a pattern, indicating that Iris was stable.

While Iris remained unconscious, Diane was able to pass her written exam and attain a full license, which allowed her to pilot her plane whenever she wanted. She then began preparing to become a commercial pilot for big flights as a job.

Emma on the other hand, was with Gwen since Iris was unable to look after her. Emma found a job of her own in London in the fashion industry.

John, however, had committed suicide, unable to bear the weight of the drastic world that he could not adjust to. In the last minute of his death, he had mentioned to Jack about the conversation that he and Iris had. That he hoped that Jack would realize just how much Iris seemed to be suffering.

Iris remained unconscious for four more days. When she finally woke up, she was disorientated, her memories jumbled a bit.

“What… where am I?” She had first asked.

Owen looked at her and replied with, “You’re at the Hub. You had difficulty breathing… remember?”

Iris looked at him funny and said,

“What happened?”

Then the team explained to her what happened to the three people. Iris merely nodded and lied back down again. When the team went back to their respective homes, Iris was left in Jack’s care. She was lying down, reading a book, when she heard footsteps down the stairs. She looked up to see Jack gazing down at her. They just remained that way until Iris looked down.

“Iris, look at me.” Jack quietly said.

Iris shook her head without saying anything. She merely looked at her hands when she felt a warm hand touch her chin and gently guided her head to face him.

She looked up at his face in confusion as he said,

“Iris, why didn’t you tell me about this?”

Iris looked up at him with a sad look and she hesitated.

“Iris?” Jack gently asked her.

“I… Jack… I don’t know.”

Jack looked at her, slightly unbelievably.

“Jack, I’m not sure what’s going on with me and I’m terrified.”

With that response, Jack grabbed her hand and held it. He had nothing to say to her in that respect. He wasn’t sure what he could potentially say to her.

Iris looked and saw how lost Jack looked in respect to what she had just said.

“Jack… I know that I… I told you that I loved you the last time we were in this scenario. But… honestly put… I’m not sure if I know what I’m feeling.”

Jack looked at her in surprise. He didn’t expect her to explain about that. Then he smiled and said,

“That’s fine. I… I think I was unfair when I confessed. If you need time, you can take as long as you need. Besides, you know that I have a very long time and maybe patience.”

Iris chuckled, as if a weight had been lifted from her and she smiled.

“Thank you. But Jack, I… I have something to ask of you.”

Jack looked at her curiously, wondering what it could possibly that she wanted to ask of him. Her eyes grew determined to the point that Jack never saw her with.

“What is it?” He asked.

Iris looked at him before slowly saying,

“Will you promise me that you will, despite whatever happens, that you will take me to see the Doctor when the time comes?”

Jack looked at her and then hesitantly nodded. Despite every part of him wanting to refuse that request, he also knew that something must have happened for her to ask him again with so much determination.

“Can I ask what else might have happened?”

Iris shook her head as she said,

“I’m not sure if I can tell you. I’m not sure if I can ask him… either…”

Jack looked at her and just nodded. His curiosity wanted to know what it was, but he knew better than to push Iris for an answer. He then smiled again and said to her,

“Iris, don’t hide things from me like this again. Spoilers are fine, but regarding you… I want to make sure that I don’t lose you. Please….”

Iris looked at Jack, noticing his piercing eyes. She had a strong urge to hug Jack, to feel his warmth, but she held herself back. She couldn’t, surely, she couldn’t. But his worried gaze, the fire in Jack’s eyes consumed every thought that she held and suddenly, she found herself shifting her body and throwing her arms around Jack’s neck as her lips crashed onto his.

She felt him tense with shock and she found herself urging him on, trying her best to kiss him to deliver the sudden overwhelming wave of passion she felt. She then met his lips at first gently move with her, before sensing him increasing his own movements as if in a sense of urgency, feeling one hand move to her back and the other to the back of her neck to hold her closer to him as they kissed.

Chapter Text

Jack looked at Iris, worry filling his eyes. Then, he saw a flash of movement as a pair of arms wrapped themselves around his neck. That was when he felt Iris’s lips on his. At first, he was uncertain as to what he should do since it was all so sudden. He was so shocked from the sudden change in Iris’s demeanor that he didn’t quite know what to do. But after Iris continued to kiss him, he gave into his own urges, kissing her back as passionately as he could without hurting her. After a while, Jack felt Iris separate the kiss to catch her breath. When she looked up at him, he held his hands where they were, not sure what to expect.

Iris smiled at Jack, a honest smile that the 51st century man had not seen in such a long time. That prompted him to chuckle nervously. Hesitantly, he asked her,

“Is this a sign for something more than friendship?”

Iris laughed a little and nodded as she returned to lying down in her bed.

“I don’t think I can fool myself or hold back my feelings any more Jack.” Iris said out loud, feeling the wariness settle in again.

“Why were you holding back?” Jack asked.

Iris looked at him, her eyes going distant, as if reminiscing a memory that was a little too painful to bear. And then something in Jack clicked. How she had looked at him and then would look at Ianto, as if figuring out their relationship since she had arrived at Torchwood.

“It’s Ianto isn’t it? I fell in love with him in the TV show.” Jack said.

Iris grimaced and nodded, looking away from Jack. But Jack didn’t want any of that and grabbed her chin gently and nudged her to look at him again.

“What about you and Ianto?” He whispered again.

Iris’s eyes widened as she blushed. Jack wasn’t sure what he felt. But it didn’t sit well with him entirely.

“I’m not sure.” She hesitantly replied before continuing with,

“I feel comfortable around him. He helps me through all this Jack. He is like the constant that I want to rely on.”

Jack looked at her, and then nodded, understanding what she meant. Throughout the years he had been on Earth, one of his marriages were because of that same reason. He didn’t push the topic anymore, which Iris was grateful of. But she continued to hold Jack’s hand for the remainder of that night, even as she finally slept in peace.

Like that, the rest of the team noticed the change in relationship that Iris and Jack had. Iris was no longer ignoring Jack, and would, on her happy days, be friendly to the captain. The only thing that they didn’t know had happened was the confession of mutual love that they had shared. However, Ianto seemed to also give Iris more of his attention once he noticed this renewed closeness between the two people.

Recently, Iris had been requesting Ianto to visit his sister more and outside of work, Ianto was unable to look after Iris as he had been. This had left Jack and Iris to share some quiet nights together at the Hub. Just simple things were done such as watching movies and talking about the Doctor.

What Iris did not want to indulge to Jack was her fear of the upcoming events and even her recent problems. The health deterioration was the least of her problems. It was the fear of the end of the finale and then meeting the Doctor. She had promised at one point after being allowed to work inside the Hub again that she would tell everything to the Doctor. But she had lied to Jack. Iris didn’t feel confident about that one aspect.

She just couldn’t imagine how she could talk about Zagreus to the Doctor without bringing painful memories for the Doctor. That regeneration was probably when the Doctor felt the most guilt excluding his War Doctor version. Iris had tried to bring up various scenarios, but what could she possibly say?

It would probably hurt the Doctor to even say that she came from a parallel universe since Rose was stuck in one. And she just couldn’t go up to him and outright ask him, ‘why am I hearing Rassilon’s call me Zagreus?’ when it had literally ripped the Time Lord’s mental state apart when the Doctor was transformed to one part of Zagreus?

Days passed as if nothing was wrong. Ianto came back from his trips and had resorted to taking Iris out for fresh air and a good meal. Jack, at first, had hinted his displeasure at that invitation, but Iris rebelled and said,

“There is no way that just because you’re jealous of Ianto, that I am staying here. I am going to have a nice meal with Ianto other than fish and chips and you can’t change my mind.”

With that, Jack couldn’t retaliate and let her go. But of all nights, that was the night when there were signs of weevil trouble.

Jack had drove to the area of the weevil sighting and trapped the creature at a dead end. Panting from running a lot, Jack said,

“Hate to break it to you, you’re not my first. Anti-Weevil spray. Handclamps. Come on, let’s make this easy for both of us.”

He was about to spray the Anti-Weevil spray when the creature bolted towards him and scratched him severely. The Weevil then ran off while Jack just looked annoyed and said to himself,

“This always happens when I give them the night off.”

He then drove towards the restaurant Ianto and Iris were, before changing his mind. If anything, he didn’t want Iris near Weevils at the moment. She was still not faring well physically as she still did not have a good appetite and suffered from the after-effects of the migraines. Owen and Tosh had finally managed to decide to go grab a date by watching a movie and then drinks, so Jack didn’t want to interrupt their date. So he quickly turned around to get Gwen.

Ianto and Iris were at a Japanese restaurant. Ianto had decided to spend some money so that Iris could eat whatever she wanted, and the girl had asked for Japanese cuisine. It was something that hadn’t surprised Iris. She seemed to love all types of Asian food that had some type of flavor. What did catch his eyes though was how little she seemed to be eating compared to when she had first arrived. At the beginning, Ianto and the rest of the Torchwood team were surprised at how much Iris could fit into her stomach when she had such a small body. Now, she barely ate anything.

He didn’t remark on it, but he was concerned.

“So, how are things with Jack then?” Ianto finally managed to ask Iris.

The girl looked up at the Welsh man, almost choking on her drink.

“Better. I guess…”

Ianto almost frowned when he saw Iris blush.

The memory of kissing Jack had come back to haunt her. It wasn’t their first kiss, but this was the first time that they had kissed each other. The last time was Jack breathing air into her and then kissing her while she was somewhat paralyzed. Not romantic at all.

“Iris, I wanted to ask you some things.” Ianto started, when both of them got a text message.

Ianto glowered at the phone that had rudely interrupted him. It was from Jack calling the team in. Ianto looked up at Iris, almost making him smile when Iris puffed up her cheeks in annoyance to indicate that she was sulking that she had to go back to the Hub so soon.

When they arrived and gathered around, Jack immediately began saying,

“One. Since when did other people know about Weevils? Two. Have they don this before and if so how come didn’t we know about it? Three. What do they want with them anyway?”

Iris shook her head. She didn’t like this episode much. It wasn’t really boring, but it was something that she knew she couldn’t do much with since it was practically all field work.

Ianto said, “Might not be connected, but we’ve noticed a surge of unusual injuries being reported at the A&E unit.”

Jack looked up at Ianto and nodded as he read some of the reports, “Chunks taken out of legs and arms. Deep wounds to backs and stomachs. So we have a wave of Weevil attacks to add to our problems. Oh, and by the way, that spray we’ve used on them previously, looks like they’re becoming immune to it.”

Tosh looked at Iris and Owen in surprise, asking, “They’re mutating?”

Iris looked at her friend and inserted, “Or evolving.”

Jack then looked at Iris, and asked, “So any sign of the one we lost earlier?”

Iris looked back at her computer screen and said, “I’ve run a trace on the van’s number plate. It’s fake. Two and a half thousand vans of that type registered in the Cardiff area. Widen that to a 40 mile radius and the number doubles.”

Jack looked at Tosh then and said, “So, run a trace on the vehicle.”

Tosh looked up and suggested, “Route via traffic cameras?”

Iris nodded and Tosh immediately replied with,

“Processing that now.”

Iris then saw Gwen head up to the conference room quietly and saw the woman make a phone call. It must be Rhys that she was calling, Iris thought. Iris looked around again to find all the team in the Hub. Owen was here too. Iris wondered just how much she had actually changed and what the consequences would be for changing so much.

Iris then headed down with Ianto and Owen to observe the Weevils as something strange happened. The Weevils sounded like they were crying.

Ianto then fetched Jack. As both men came down to the holding cells, Iris heard Ianto say,

“It started ten minutes ago.”

Both men then looked at the Weevil and Ianto continued with,

“What do you think it’s doing?”

Jack quietly responded with, “I think it’s weeping.”

Owen looked perplexed as he further questioned, “Why? Could it actually be because they do have a certain level of telepathic ability to share emotions?”

Iris looked to Jack, curiosity and sadness hitting her at the same time as she heard Ianto ask,

“You mean it might be feeling the pain of another Weevil?”

Iris responded, “I kind of hope we’re wrong with our hypothesis though.”

Ianto looked confused as he asked “Why?”

Jack picked up and said, “Because that would mean somebody’s not only kidnapping the Weevils, they’re causing them pain.”

With that, Jack went closer to the cell and asked the creatures with wary curiosity,

“What can you feel? What do you know?”

When the four people reached the Hub again, Tosh immediately looked up at them with a confident smirk and said,

“I’ve tracked the van’s route. It went straight from the car park out to the docks. This was two hours ago.”

The team approached Tosh’s desk to see the route and the CCTV footage. They all saw the men get out of the van and when the vehicle’s side door had opened, static interrupted the footage. Iris groaned in annoyance.

“Every single time…” Iris said in frustration out loud.

Tosh rolled her eyes at that reaction. Jack then asked,

“What happened?”

Iris rolled her eyes this time and said,

“The CCTV cameras went down.”

The hint of annoyance in her voice wasn’t surprising anymore, but it still disturbed the rest of the team how easily she became aggravated.

Gwen asked, “Do you think it was deliberate?”

Tosh just looked at Gwen with boredom and said, “I think these guys really don’t like to be watched.”

The annoyance that began to seep into Tosh’s voice was obvious and Iris held back a laugh.

Jack looked at all the women with annoyance, knowing that they were not in their happiest mood and said,

“See, I know it’s a character flaw, but that makes me all the more determined to find out what it is they’re hiding.”

Iris laughed out loud, thinking of another man who was exactly like that. The weird looks the team gave her caused her laugh to die down as she shrugged her shoulders and said,

“What? I was just thinking about another man who has that exact character flaw but ten times worse.”

The comment made Jack smirk and then the team began to work. Jack and Tosh decided to go the warehouse, while Iris, Ianto and Owen stayed behind at the Hub. Gwen was to look at police files to get any leads. When Jack called them about a murder, they began preparing the Autopsy room right away so that they could reduce time and help end the case as quickly as possible.

When Jack and Ianto helped move the body over to the Autopsy table, Gwen began reading the file she had on the man.

“Dan Hodges. Date of birth, 21 of January 1979. Salesman for web publishing software. Looks like he was married with a kid.”

Owen held up the left hand of the victim, pointing towards the wedding ring on it with a smirk and said,

“Yeah? No shit, Sherlock.”

He then clapped his hands and then proceeded to tell the rest of the team information about the wounds the man had

“Right, definitely death by Weevil, but he took a right kicking before the throat was punctured. Weevils go for the kill, straight for the jugular. Look at his face. Black eye, bruises to the cheekbones. Same across the back and ribs.”

Tosh looked at the body with some trepidation and asked,

“Could he have been tortured?”

Owen glanced at the Tosh, eyes softening a little bit and responded with,

“Maybe, but I reckon these wounds were inflicted by humans. But why smack somebody about and then set the Weevil on them? Why not get the Weevil do all the work for you?”

Iris was about to speak up when Jack asked Ianto,

“any joy with the phone records?”

Ianto looked up at the captain, noticing a strange look on Iris’s face before replying,

“The last incoming number was blocked, and the phone’s entire call history has been erased.”

Iris tried to speak up again but Tosh spoke first this time with

“God, they move fast.”

Jack looked at Iris as he said,

“You ask me, these guys are using Weevils to carry out the perfect murder. No fingerprints, no traces of recognizable DNA, a quick, guaranteed death. Nothing to connect anyone to the murder.”

Iris tried to speak again when Owen spoke this time.

“Right, should be a piece of piss to find the killer then.”

Gwen looked sadly at the corpse, before asking,

“What about this guy? Someone’s got to break it to his wife that he’s dead.”

The team looked at each other and looked back at Gwen, indicating that the thought had not crossed their minds until she had mentioned it.

Owen decided to drive Gwen to the house of the victim, while Gwen would talk to the lady. Meanwhile, Iris was back at Jack’s office, trying to grab his attention. When he finally managed to listen to her, she revealed what was happening from what she knew from the episode and then how to go about this case. Jack’s facial expression turned dark and Iris noticed how Jack’ s normally, joyful blue eyes turned icy. She felt suffocated when she saw the rage behind Jack’s eyes, making her realize just how much Jack has seen the entire time he has lived.

When Owen and Gwen finally came back, Jack seemed to be in a better mood as he said,

“Well, in your guys’ absence, Toshiko and Iris had a great idea.”

Iris rolled her eyes and said,

“It wasn’t mine. It was Toshiko’s. Jack’s just trying to kiss my ass to get on my good side.”

Jack smirked a little, surprised from the completely not-Iris like comment and replied with,

“Always sweetheart.”

Iris scoffed while everybody else almost vomited on spot. Ianto looked between Iris and Jack, not sure what to say. He wasn’t sure if he liked the interaction the two just had or hated it. Something about Jack lured Ianto, it wasn’t a lie, but something about Iris also tugged his heart. He had been struggling since he had no relationship since the Lisa incident and he didn’t quite feel ready, but his emotions seemed to say otherwise.

Owen then coughed and said, “Well… let’s then… uh… listen to that brilliant idea.”

Tosh immediately perked up, smiling towards Owen and said,

“The van went from kidnapping the Weevil straight to the warehouse. They must’ve known it was empty.”

Gwen spoke up, understanding where this was leading to.

“So either they own it or they had previous contact with the estate agents.”

Jack, Ianto, Tosh and Iris shared a look and they all nodded. Jack then looked at Owen seriously and said,

“Owen Harper, you’re going into property. Iris is in the middle of fixing you a cover story.”

Owen’s mouth opened wide in shock and he didn’t look happy at that sudden arrangement.

“Hang on. Why me? I get why Tosh, you, Gwen and Iris can’t do it. But why not the Welsh over there?”

Ianto just looked up with annoyance while Jack said,

“Well… Iris said Ianto helps out with her work whenever she needs it, and honestly put, he could help out here more than out there compared to you. So…”

Owen shook his head and said,

“Yeah, all right. I guess I’ll work out on trying to be someone else right now.”

Iris looked at Owen, thinking about how much she had changed. Owen was closer with Tosh. They weren’t going out, but it seemed like they were more than friends. Ianto was more involved with what the team was doing and Gwen… well… Gwen was pretty much herself without the Owen drama. Thank goodness for that, Iris thought. But the major thing that really bothered her was the dynamic between Iris, Ianto and Jack.

She clearly knew that she loved Jack, but something about Ianto kept bothering her, as if she felt guilty about how she had confessed to the 51st century man instead of him. But when she hung out with Ianto, she also couldn’t get Jack out of her head. What was wrong with her?

Iris squeezed her cheeks with both of her hands to get out of the thought and decided to focus on helping Owen along with Tosh to reduce the workload on the poor woman. Iris was doing most of the hacking while Tosh was instructing Owen what to do as she was doing the finishing touches of helping set up Owen’s identity.

Later, Owen returned to the Hub and Tosh smirked, causing Iris to look up at her with curiosity.

Tosh looked at her and then said,

“First, he’ll go for the weblink at the top of the page. Then, he’ll want to know what other people say about the business…. Now he’ll see what Owen has to say about himself.”

Iris couldn’t help but burst out loud in laughter. Iris had helped with Owen’s past, but not the business part. She knew it was going to be jellied eels, but to see Owen awkwardly act for an advertisement was so funny that she fell out of her chair and rolled on the ground laughing. Tosh joined in the laughter when suddenly, the phone rang, indicating that the man named Mark called for confirmation.

Iris quickly held her breath to stop laughing and left the Hub to make sure she didn’t ruin anything from laughing so much. As she walked away, she heard Tosh pick up the phone, saying,

“Harper’s sales. Jenny Long speaking.”

Later when Iris came back up from her room, she found that Jack and Ianto had gone the hospital to investigate the patient. When Tosh had first picked up the phone, Iris felt happier than most days, but suddenly, she had the tremors come back and she was annoyed to the core. Why couldn’t she just have one normal day without the pain? She sighed and sat on the sofa in the Hub, taking the medication that Owen gave her so that she wouldn’t feel the pain even if her working no longer an option for the day. When Jack and Ianto came back, they all headed towards the holding cell area.

Iris heard Tosh ask,

“What did he mean, everyone?”

Ianto replied with,

“That was all he’d say.”

Jack said,

“Couldn’t get any more out of him. That leaves us one option. Okay, Janet, time for a trip out.”

Iris looked at the Weevil and asked,

“Why do you call that Weevil Janet?”

Jack smiled at the people near him and said,

“Barbara just never seemed right.”

Ianto shook his head and chuckled. When he looked at Iris, he saw her laugh and that seemed to make his day infinitely better.

Iris was about to follow Jack, Ianto and Tosh into the rover when Jack turned around and grabbed her shoulders before she could get in. She looked at him with annoyance, knowing what he was about to say.

“Jack, let me go with you guys…” Iris said

But Jack just shook his head and replied with,

“You stay here. You just told me that you had another tremor. You can’t go out with us in that condition.”

Iris huffed in frustration, knowing better than to argue, and nodded. She let the three people plus Weevil leave the Torchwood base as she headed back to the Hub, deciding to think on some important future cases.

After a while though, she became bored out of her mind and decided to just watch some TV when she heard Gwen call out.

“Hello? Anyone?”

“Yeah?” Iris responded, standing up tiredly. She stretched a little and headed towards the woman, seeing that she had brought pizzas.

Gwen looked upset, and Iris realized what had happened. Iris nodded towards the sofa and the two began eating pizzas, Iris not prying for answers, knowing that the woman would decide to open up if she wanted to. But then Gwen burst into tears and Iris grew flustered, not sure about what to do in this scenario. Without much idea, she just hugged the crying woman. Then both women heard a phone go off. Iris looked at Gwen to see if it was hers, since Iris always put her phone on vibrate mode. But the woman shook her head and Iris got up to see that it was the murder victim’s phone and immediately read the message. Gwen looked at it and then nodded to Iris, who contacted Jack via her own earpiece.

“Jack, can you hear me? I’m here at the Hub with Gwen-”

“What the hell is she doing there? I thought I told her to go home and spend time with her boyfriend.”

Jack responded, sounding pissed off.

Iris rolled her eyes and continued speaking,

“There was a text message sent to Dan’s phone. Charlie Foxtrot One Zero Six Bravo Yankee. It’s  a postcode for a building. It will definitely have a Lynch Frost sign outside.”

Tosh then spoke up, saying that she got the location. Jack then told that they were on their way and will pick up Gwen. Iris said that she will go with them, saying that they would need all hands on deck on this one. Jack relented and then they all arrived at the property. When they arrived, Iris immediately grabbed a gun and ran forwards to the arena where Owen was. She saw Owen about to go in and she yelled,

“OWEN!!!”

The Torchwood medic turned around in shock before Mark pushed him in and locked the door. Owen shouted to Mark to open the door and Iris immediately shot Mark in the leg without a thought and then shot the lock and opened the door only to have both of them in the way of an aggravated Weevil.

Owen cursed and then shoved Iris back so that the Weevil got to him first.

“Owen!” Iris yelled in shock and then heard a shot and saw the Weevil fall down.

She looked up to see that Jack had shot the Weevil. Iris was frozen as she saw Tosh and Gwen rush over to Owen and helped him out. Iris then looked over to Mark and then saw him looking at her with fear. She then saw the blood seep out of Mark’s leg then back to the man’s eyes that reflected just how scared he was. Iris flinched internally as she tried to think back on when she shot him.

Then she felt a pair of arms help her up, noticing that it was Ianto, she accepted his help and left the building, not wanting to see anybody else.

The night passed and Iris was in the hospital with Jack. Iris sat down by the bed while Jack smirked and tossed a bag of grapes down onto Owen’s table.

Owen grimaced and said,

“You guys shouldn’t have. No, really you shouldn’t. I hate grapes.”

Iris cut in and said,

“Doctors think you can go home now.”

Owen then looked at her and smiled and said,

“Yeah? But I still feel horrible. I think I’ll stay a bit more until I can move without feeling like my limbs will fall off.”

Iris looked down and said,

“I’m sorry Owen.”

Jack and Owen looked at Iris and Owen immediately asked,

“Why are you apologizing?”

Iris looked at the medic said,

“This might not have happened if I just told you guys where you can catch them in the first place.”

Owen shook his head and said,

“No. This case, it wasn’t that bad I guess. But there’s also to factor in that it’s my fault that I was led there.”

Iris looked up with tears in her eyes as she asked, “Why?”

Jack looked at the medic and saw the underlying guilt.

“I felt useless because I couldn’t help you out. You’re like my sister Iris. Seeing you deteriorate in health is not what I want to see ever. Promise me that you won’t go rushing to your death? At least do that for me and the team?” 

Owen responded.

Iris looked at him, and she said,

“I promise.”

When they left the hospital, Jack dropped Iris off at her new home. It was finally ready, and she said she wanted some time alone.

It was because she lied.

She lied to Owen because she knew what she was going to do. What she had planned for the upcoming event of the rise of Abaddon.

Chapter Text

Iris looked at the screen of the TV and did only that. She wasn't sure what to feel. Fear? Joy? Anticipation? It felt like all three. It was Christmas night and lo and behold, there was the ship of the Empress of the Racnoss, in the sky. She just stared as she saw the tanks roll in and shut it down, while the Thames was drowned.

Jack was at her home, they had planned to quietly just spend Christmas with hot chocolate, presents and good food with TV. And then this had happened. Jack came from the kitchen holding a mug of hot chocolate when he saw her frozen staring at the TV screen. He saw what was there and gently set the mug down to go by her side as he listened to what was being said.

"Care to explain?" Jack asked gently.

"It's you-know-who" Iris replied.

"He drowned the Thames?" Jack asked.

Iris nodded and said,

"You better get ready for some heavy paperwork."

Jack looked confused and Iris sighed as she said,

"He did it in a former Torchwood location."

Jack cursed and said,

"When can we stop cleaning some of his messes?"

Iris then laughed darkly and said, "Never."

Jack returned to the Hub because Iris said that she had separate things to do on her own. When he left, he had heard the name Harold Saxon and saw Iris flinch quite visibly. He wasn't sure why that name had caused her to look so scared, but he didn't ask for questions, knowing that somehow, that man would be involved with something they did in the future.

Once that was dealt with, there seemed to be a bit of peace within Torchwood. Although they did have to lie their way around and clean up after what the Doctor had done, they didn't have much to do. Except for Iris. In secret, Iris had began preparing information on Harold Saxon and Martha Jones and her family. She also knew that it wouldn't be long until they would see the Doctor from their perspective. And that honestly ate at her nerves more than she had thought it would.

Bit by bit, she began preparing the information so that when the time came, the team would see the information and prepare themselves from the Toclafane. But what she also prepared for was another scenario.

If she didn't survive until the Doctor appeared.

She was never too sure whether she would be able to regarding the upcoming events for the team.

Days passed without any incident and then suddenly, there was blip on a location. She pulled a picture and took in a breath to calm her nerves but it didn't do much.

It was the Ritz. This was the episode about the real Captain Jack Harkness. It was the day that they had to open the Rift.

Jack and Toshiko had gone to the site of Rift activity while the rest of the team was at the Hub. Owen had decided to take a nap after a long night while Gwen had decided to read a magazine. Ianto was brewing Iris some coffee. Iris on the other hand nervously rubbed her wrists with a distant look on her face as she just stared at nothing.

Then a loud alarm went off, prompting Owen to jump awake from the sofa.

"What the hell is that?" Owen said, clearly tired as he rubbed his mouth to clean any drool that might have come out.

Iris looked at her computer as she snapped out of her daydream state and frowned as she said,

"Tosh's Rift monitor program. She set it to alert us if there were any further movements. The Rift's been opening more and more recently."

Owen nodded as he responded with,

"Yeah, well, I've noticed that. Doesn't take a genius."

Ianto came up and handed the cup of coffee to Iris, which she thanked him for. Ianto warmly smiled at her as he leaned down to look at the computer screen as he said,

"Tosh reckons the equations are forming some sort of pattern. I should call her. She may have readings on her end and this is over my head."

Iris looked at the man and said, "I'm not sure what equation Tosh used since she really didn't have a chance to explain it to me either."

Owen looked between the two people and frowned with concern as he asked,

"Er, why wasn't I told about this?"

Iris looked at him as she said,

"Well, she said that she wasn't quite sure if the results were finalized, and she wanted to make sure that it was accurate before telling you so that she made you proud about it."

Owen's confused facial expression immediately softened and Iris swore that she might have seen Owen blush a little.

Ianto stepped aside as he first contacted Gwen to go down to Sage Street.

Iris frowned as she couldn't get in contact with Jack while Ianto came back still talking to Gwen,

"The Rift monitor sounded. She's with Jack but both their phones seem to be dead and we can't access her files."

Iris immediately started to see if she could access Tosh's files on her own. However, Tosh must have put another set of safety measures in her computer as it didn't easily happen. Iris was working on it when moments later, she finally got in. She called the Owen and Ianto over.

"Hey, I've managed to get into Tosh's files. All her reports and stuff."

Owen and Ianto looked over her screen and noticed all the dates of Rift activity, concern clearly marking their faces as they were not sure what to expect. Then they heard Gwen communicate to them as she reported,

"The SUV's here. They must be here somewhere."

Iris frowned and began quickly to type in her own computer, which was to connect whatever information Tosh received to be automatically saved on her computer.

Owen then reported to them about the information of the Ritz.

"Right, the Ritz dance hall opened in 1932, shut down in 1989. Due to be demolished in one week. Now, the reported music is from the 1940s."

Ianto looked through the images of the Ritz on Tosh's computer, which included photographs from roughly that time period.

Owen frowned in concern and looked towards Iris in concern,

"Why is a ghost job taking them this long? Do you know anything about it?"

Iris looked up from her program and sighed as she said,

"I do. And it's still spoiler material. It's complicated right now. Whatever happens here reflects what needs to happen to play out what I know."

Owen sighed, frustrated, but relented as he went back to reading more of the information. Suddenly, Ianto 's eyes widened as he said,

"Guys, look there!"

He pointed to the man Bilis had that included the picture of the 51st century man, Toshiko and the real Jack Harkness.

Iris looked at the photography and had to admit that the real captain was also pretty much good looking and felt a tugging sensation in her heart that it was pivotal for the man to die in order for Jack to get his identity.

They were trying to find more information when Gwen reported in,

"I heard music earlier. If I can hear them, maybe they can hear me. They've got to come back."

With that, those at the Hub heard Gwen yell Jack and Tosh's name. However, nothing seemed to come back and then Iris was about to give more directions to Gwen when Owen spoke up.

"Ok, I know this is a wild idea, but maybe we can use Tosh's information to open the Rift and bring them back."

Ianto's eyes darkened as he said,

"We can't. Half the equation's missing."

Owen looked a little desperate and upset as he said,

"It can't be. It must be somewhere else. Let me try."

Ianto shook his head, wishing that Iris was paying attention to what Owen was trying to do as he said,

"It's not there. It might be in her laptop."

Owen looked up at Ianto when the man's face blanched a little as he muttered out,

"Which she never goes anywhere without."

Owen immediately yelled out, "Shit. Shit!" clearly stressed about having Tosh potentially stuck in another time zone.

Iris kept status with Gwen, who muttered,

"I've had a good look around but most of the doors are locked."

Then Iris finally heard the voice through Gwen's communicator, it was Bilis.

"Can I help you? I'm the caretaker Bilis Manger, at your service."

Gwen, surprised, responded politely with,

"Hello. Could you open it all up for me? I think some of my coworkers got locked in."

Bilis responded with, "Yes. Follow me."

Gwen thanked the man and they seemed to chat as Bilis questioned the woman, who had kept her communicator on live.

"Why were your coworkers in here anyway?"

Gwen didn't answer immediately, but she did say,

"Just business. Somebody reported in some trouble and we're part of this investigation."

Iris listened intently as she heard Bilis say, "You look worried, dear. I'll make you a nice cup of tea."

Later, it seemed that Bilis and Gwen were both in the man's office as Bilis said,

"Is anyone expecting you?"

Gwen then replied with, "Yes."

Bilis didn't seem to respond until a moment passed as he said,

"Perhaps you should call them, otherwise they may think you've disappeared too. I'll put the kettle on."

Gwen then whispered to Iris,

"Anything your end?"

Iris quickly looked at Ianto, who had been looking through some of the photographs quickly as he replied with,

"There are no more photographs of Jack and Tosh after that night. That's encouraging."

Owen muttered as he continued to look for more information regarding the second half of the equation

"Yeah, unless the bombs got 'em."

Ianto quickly said,

"The manager. Bili Manger, kept them for posterity."

They all heard Gwen gasp a little as she whispered,

"Bilis Manger? That's the name of the caretaker."

Ianto and Owen looked at Iris whose face darkened as Ianto asked,

"Can't be the same guy, can it?"

They heard Gwen pause and say,

"Not old enough. Although he does a look a bit out of his time. He wears a cravat."

Iris stayed silent as she heard Ianto voice his concern,

"Gwen, he's in the photo with Jack and Tosh."

Owen then quickly added in,

"Then he's the answer. He's come through the Rift. Find out what he's doing."

Ianto shook his head as he gently said,

"No. Get out, Gwen. Wait for backup. It's better if we head over there to help."

Owen shook his head, his fear for the rest of the teammates getting a little too desperate as he said,

"We can't lose him."

Ianto grabbed Owen's shoulders as he looked at the man and said,

"We can't lose Gwen too. Maybe this is a trap. He could be sucking us all back through time one by one. Get out of there, Gwen. That's an order."

Owen shoved Ianto away as he looked at Iris and Ianto as he said,

"I'm sorry, but who exactly put you in charge?"

Iris heard Gwen whisper that she was heading out of the office while Ianto and Owen began to argue even more. Then she stood up in shock as Owen violently opened a grill in the floor and pulled a rope.

Ianto yelled out,

"What are you doing Owen?"

Owen responded to the Welsh man, saying,

"We haven't got the missing numbers. We'll have to improvise with the Rift Manipulator."

Ianto panicked, saying

"We can't. It's risky enough with the equation. If we don't do this properly, anything can happen."

Owen was clearly upset as he said,

"Bombs are falling. They're stuck in the middle of the Cardiff Blitz. Tosh needs me. Jack needs you guys. It's our duty to get 'em out."

Iris immediately started to tell Gwen where to go so they could quickly get the second set of equations. But Owen and Ianto started to argue even more heatedly.

Ianto said,

"Open the Rift now and the whole world could suffer. We could all get sucked in. Who knows what will come out? This is about Tosh, isn't it? You're not thinking straight because she's stuck there right now."

Owen glared at Ianto as he said,

"Whereas your cyber-girlfriend stuck around, of course. Not that she had a choice, wired up in the cellar."

"Owen!" Iris yelled, not liking where this was going.

Ianto stayed quiet as Owen looked at Iris, finally realizing how emotional he had become. Then he sighed out loud as he then muttered,

"Maybe the Manipulator can calculate the missing figures."

And then without the chance for Iris and Ianto to stop him, Owen plugged wire into the Rift.

They held their breath in when nothing seemed to happen. Owen frowned in frustration again as he complained,

"It isn't working."

Ianto let out a breath of relief, not sure what to do as he said,

"Good. Jack would never have wanted us to use it this way."

Iris quickly went back to her computer, warily eyeing the two men as she asked Gwen about the location of the second half of the equation. She then talked to the two men as they seemed to just glare at each other.

"Look, there's still the second half of the equation. I know where Tosh put it, and Gwen is on her way to get it. If there's anything to rely on to safely get those two back, it's that part of the equation. Stop fighting and help me with this!" Iris said, almost in a scolding manner.

Ianto quickly headed to his desk and looked at the CCTV footages outside the Ritz to check on Bilis. Owen decided to help Iris with her various tasks that she had taken on.

Ianto spoke up as he said,

"No sign of Bilis leaving the area."

Owen looked at Iris for a moment and decided to grab his jacket and head out to help Gwen. Ianto looked at Iris as she shook his head to stop him from stopping Owen. She just mouthed the word 'Ritz' and Ianto continued to look at the CCTV footages.

When Ianto spotted Owen's car, he talked to Gwen

"Be careful, Gwen. Bilis is still around."

Gwen then asked,

"Owen where are you?"

Owen responded quickly with,

"I'm in the building Where's Bilis's office?"

Gwen replied to the question, recalling where it was

"It's at the far end of the corridor. I'll keep looking out here."

Iris and Ianto waited for any sign of the location of the second equation when they heard Owen swear and say,

"I didn't find any equations. Er, I'll er, get back to the Hub."

Gwen huffed in frustration as she said,

"Fine. I'll keep looking here, then."

While Owen was on his way back to the Hub, Gwen finally found the coffee canister that held the second half of the equation and she contacted the team, saying,

"Ianto? Iris? Yeah, it's me. I've found it. It's written in blood."

Ianto looked up at Iris, not sure what to say when he found Iris staring off into space again.

"Iris?" He gently asked as he came to her.

Iris jumped out of her seat, almost like she had not known he was there and said,

"I'm fine."

Ianto looked at her, concerned, but he didn't push it, knowing that this was not the best moment to push her.

Then Owen ran in, which made Ianto quickly fill the man in on what they found.

"Gwen's found the rest of Tosh's readings."

Owen then approached Iris's computer as he hurriedly, but hopefully asked,

"What's she got for us?"

Iris requested for a picture via phone, and quickly typed it in, but quickly swore when she realized that she was missing the last bit of the equation. Then she remembered that only one man could have done it. Then Gwen finally read out the last part of the paper that had been cut out.

"Owen… Tosh wrote a message at the end. It says, 'tell my family I love them. Owen, I love you'."

The Torchwood medic almost looked like the world fell apart around him and Ianto wasn't' sure what to do.

Iris gently and quietly looked at the team and said,

"I tried everything I can, but it still won't work. There's a piece missing."

Owen then froze as he said,

"Bilis had it all along."

Ianto responded with,

"What are we going to do?"

Owen looked up and said,

"Maybe the machine can work it out."

Iris realized what Owen had pulled out and tried to stop him, but it was too late. He already put the piece he found from Bilis' office and turned it. Luckily, nothing happened.

Owen kicked the ground as he rapidly said,

"There must be something in the safe. The piece fits. We just need better instructions."

Ianto shook his head adamantly, knowing the consequences would be terrible if they opened the Rift. He said,

"You can't open the safe. You've no right."

Owen yelled at both Iris and Ianto as he said,

"I am second in command! I have got every fucking right."

Ianto tried to stop Owen as he said,

"There's stuff in there we don't know about. That's the way Jack likes it."

Owen shirked Ianto's arm off his shoulder as he spit through his teeth,

"I'm not going to play with his toys, Ianto."

With that, Iris saw Ianto try to follow Owen and stop him from finding the blueprints for the Rift. Iris didn't stop Owen from going. She was split between letting the Rift open or to stop Owen. What was the right choice? Did she have to let it open to let the future she knew play out or did she do what Jack would want? As she struggled with herself, she felt a chill go down her back.

Iris turned around to only find herself looking at someone.

Someone that looked like her, but with short, curled hair and dyed a light brown at the tips. The woman was wearing black jeans, a white shirt, and black leather jacket. She had red lipstick and black eyeliner, giving her an edgy look. But what really stood out was how the woman looked only slightly older than her, but drastically older in the eyes.

Iris took in a breath and closed her eyes and opened them again. The person was still there. She looked like her, but Iris had never looked like the person across from her ever. Iris stood up a little bit and saw the woman smirking. The woman finally spoke,

"I know what you're thinking. It's creepy, I know, but I'm not really here."

"What?" was all Iris could really say.

"I'm here to tell you that despite what you want to do, you have to let the Rift open. Let the events take place. There's only so much you can change and this is supposed to be happen."

The person said.

"Who are you?" Iris asked.

The woman stopped talking and shook her head, sad smile forming on her lips. That was when Iris knew who this was.

It was herself.

She was looking at a future version of her. And despite all the questions that floated through her head, she couldn't speak.

The older version of Iris then spoke up again,

"I'm not really here, but I also can't hold this connection between you and I much longer. Make sure the Rift opens and the events that you plan go as you wish for. The Rift must be opened."

Iris was confused, but the woman disappeared from her sight as Ianto and Owen rushed back out with the blueprint.

Owen spoke out loud, bringing Iris back to the situation at hand.

"There's instructions in here. This isn't some random act of madness."

Ianto shook his head, still trying to stop Owen,

"It's a trap. Bilis wanted you to find it."

Owen looked up and asked the man, "Why?"

Iris replied with,

"To provoke the Rift and bring a horrible creature from within it."

Owen looked at her and then back to Ianto and said,

"I'm tired of being in awe of the Rift. I'm also not going to lose Tosh or Jack. I'm actually really tired of living with Jack's secrets. Other than Iris here, the rest of us don't even know who he is."

Ianto shook his head and said,

"He's our leader."

Owen paused, and then Iris saw a gleam of determination in his eyes settle in as he kicked Ianto and said,

"Not any more. Get out of my way Ianto."

Iris then gasped when Ianto pulled out a gun and pointed it at the medic as he dangerously spoke,

"Put the key down. Or I'll shoot."

Owen looked at Ianto for a moment but ran towards the Rift Manipulator and started it. Ianto shot Owen in the shoulder, causing Iris to scream and the central column of the Rift slowly began to move up and down just like the Tardis console's time rotor would. Iris saw Owen hold his shoulder in pain as the reality of the shot hit him. She rushed over to help the man so that he wouldn't get worse.

Meanwhile, Ianto looked at the Rift Manipulator in horror as he muttered out,

"What have you done?"

As Owen was trying to explain his actions, Iris looked back at the spot where she had seen her future self. Something about her future-self scared her more. It was as if future Iris looked almost haunted. Then she looked back at Owen and began to help to remove the bullet from his shoulder.

Owen looked at Iris and whispered,

"I knew we did the right thing, opening the Rift."

Iris didn't respond. The trio were silent and while Iris was finishing up bandaging Owen's shoulder, they heard Tosh speak.

"But it was wartime, I know, but it was beautiful."

Owen quickly stood up as he bolted to Tosh and hugged her tightly. Tosh looked decently surprised and looked to see what was going on, but she only found Iris and Ianto's dark faces.

Jack said out loud,

"There were angels dancing at the Ritz."

Iris looked at the man who came back and wasn't sure what to say. They met eye contact, but Iris saw a look in Jack's eye. But the man just silently went into his office and Iris froze on spot.

Tosh looked at Iris and said,

"Let me." Following the captain into his office.

Ianto looked at Iris, who looked a little hurt. He went up to her and hugged her, but felt her breathe out. Her shoulders shuddered and then he realized how tightly Iris hugged him.

"Iris?" Ianto asked, concern flowing into his body again as he felt her not let him go.

"I… I want to stay a little bit like this if it's ok?" Iris asked, her face in his chest as she was significantly shorter than him. He hugged her gently, rubbing his hand on her back to calm her down and said,

"It will always be ok. Iris, I promise you that we will work this out together."

Iris tugged herself closer, having many thoughts go through her head.

One was that Jack had met the man who had influenced him the name he currently went by. It was a special name for him now, and she wasn't sure what took place. And honestly, she also felt a bit hurt that Jack didn't come to hug her or say anything. He had seemed truly upset about something and she wasn't sure what it was about. Next thing she thought was that now, she truly didn't know what would take place. How Bilis would react to meeting her next.

Iris separated herself from Ianto, and looked up. She saw that Ianto was clearly upset with what happened. He quietly looked at her and asked,

"Did you know?"

Iris could only nod. Then, a thought came to her head and she said,

"Ianto, can you keep a secret?"

Ianto looked down at the woman in front of him in surprise and nodded.

"What I'm going to tell you is something you have to keep until the moment is right."

Ianto didn't feel good about how she was saying this.

"What is it?"

Iris looked around and then pulled Ianto to her computer and whispered,

"I'm going to tell you what will happen and what I'm going to do."

"What?" Ianto said, not sure that if he wanted to hear this.

"Iris, no, I don't think that's wise."

Ianto shook his head and didn't want to hear it. Somehow, the look she was giving him was as if she was leaving him instructions before she ran to her death.

"Ianto, you have to listen. I'm not sure if I will always be there to help you out. You need to listen to me."

Ianto froze. He knew that he had to listen. But he didn't want to. It felt like he was going to lose Iris. He didn't want to do that. He hadn't even told her what he felt about her yet.

Almost choking out tears, he whispered,

"What is it?"

Iris looked at his blue eyes, making sure he was ready to hear it, then slowly said,

"The Rift is open now and things will start going out of control. Things from the past, future, things not from Earth will start pouring in. We can't stop that. And like you suspected, this is all because of Bilis…"

"Then we can stop him from doing any-" Ianto began, not sure what to do with such knowledge that she was providing him with.

"Ianto! Listen to me!" Iris hissed.

Ianto quickly stopped and she went on.

"There's nothing we can do, but I planned something I know you're not going to like it, but this is where the secret between us starts." Iris said, waiting for Ianto to react.

Ianto hesitantly nodded.

"I'm going to make a deal with Bilis…"

"Iris!" Ianto said, dreading what she was going to do.

"I can't tell you what that entails, but you'll know when the deal is done. When it happens, Jack's going to stop whatever Bilis releases from the Rift. When that happens, I don't know exactly what will happen, but Jack will be dead for a few days and then come back."

Ianto looked confused, but Iris shook her head,

"Jack's human, but he can come back from dying. Don't ask why, I don't have time to explain…" she said as she glimpsed towards Jack's office, her eyes softening with sadness a little before the look of determination settled back in. She continued speaking,

"but when he does, we're most likely going to go after the Doctor. We'll be gone. That's when you have to go to my computer and read the files I've saved there. The moment you notice that we disappear, you have to do that. Otherwise, there's nothing I can do to help you guys here."

Ianto stayed silent a moment, not sure what to say before asking,

"Will you be safe?"

Ianto didn't miss Iris's guilty look and he grabbed her shoulders, wanting to shake her.

"Why? Why would you do this! You promised…"

Iris looked up at him, her heart breaking as she saw the heartache that was threatening to break Ianto.

"Because I think I know what my migraines are…"

Ianto blinked a little and trepidation dug in deeper into his stomach as he whispered,

"What?"

Iris hesitated before saying,

"The drums…"

Ianto looked down at her, and he didn't understand and was about to ask further when Iris continued,

"Please, don't mention this. Keep this a secret until the right moment comes."

Ianto looked into her dark brown, almost black eyes and said,

"I will…"

With that, Ianto hugged Iris, making sure that whatever happened, he will honor her words as if they were her last wish.

Chapter Text

Iris was back at her home. She looked at the clock with a sinking feeling in her bed. She hadn’t been able to sleep at all last night. She knew that last night would probably have been the last chance for her to sleep for what was to come, but she just couldn’t shake the fear that had taken hold of her.

If anything, she desperately regretted leaving Ianto’s side and hurt that Jack didn’t talk to her at all after coming back. Ianto had offered to stay over, knowing that she was terrified. It was hard to admit to anyone about the migraines. Iris had guessed that it was. She didn’t actually feel it, but that moment when she had looked at the news on Christmas and saw the name Harold Saxon, something in her head felt like it was tapping at the back of her forehead.

A beat of four.

That was why she just felt really out of it when Tosh and Jack had fallen through the Rift. Because she had so much going on in her head. And with the appearance of her future self, Iris had even more piling up.

Iris glanced at her clock after she rolled to her side on her bed. It blared a solid 4:00 a.m. With a sigh, she got up, not having gone inside her blankets, and proceeded to the bathroom. She brushed her teeth and washed her face in cold water. Looking at the mirror, she saw her own reflection. Since her arrival to this universe, she was significantly thinner. She used to be a little round. Not fat, but still with some more weight than almost like a bony figure. She could have passed it as a skinny person, and honestly, if she had been feeling any better, she could have sworn that she looked better than before. But she sure didn’t feel it.

If anything, she just felt heartbroken. Ever since she had been in this universe, she felt significantly happier and miserable at the same time. She found out that she could act like herself and people would just accept it since nobody from her past could judge her. However, she missed her family to the bottom of her heart. She couldn’t even say goodbye to them. She was stuck and now it was close to the end of her plans for this season.

When she stepped out of the shower, she let it dry naturally as she put on her clothes for the day. She first tried on blue jeans and a simple white blouse with a navy-blue blazer then looked at herself and grimaced. For she was planning to do, the white blouse was probably not a good idea. She immediately changed into her gray jeans and a grey knit short-sleeve shirt. Looking at herself, she then proceeded to French braid her hair and called it good enough. Taking one last glance at her reflection, she let out a breath to calm her fast-beating heart and turned the lights off of her apartment as she went to the Torchwood base.

It was still relatively early in the morning when she arrived. It was around 6:00 a.m. and she was fetching herself some water from the refrigerator in the Hub when she heard footsteps coming near. She turned around and saw Jack. The man stopped upon seeing her and stood there, just looking at her. Iris wanted to speak up, but she couldn’t find her voice as she looked at the man. She turned around and began to undo the cap of the water bottle as she heard Jack come up behind her and wrap his arms around her waist.

She set down the water bottle onto the counter and just stood there, not saying anything. Then she felt Jack breathe by her neck, sending tickling sensations on her back as nerves kicked in.

Then Jack spoke.

“Is everything going to be alright in the end?”

Iris nodded, not able to say anything out loud in fear of her emotions revealing her conflicted emotions. She felt Jack’s hands on her shoulders as he turned her around to face him. She looked up to see him and Jack said,

“This is it isn’t it? The end of a season of the show of our life?”

Jack saw how Iris’ eyes tear up a little and he hugged her again. He knew something was wrong when he had seen her come to the Hub so early in the morning looking haunted. It was as if she hadn’t slept. He hadn’t talked to her last night in fear of what he had done back in the other timeline.

His encounter with the real Captain Jack Harkness had shaken him up a bit. And when he heard from Ianto after Iris had left about her giving Ianto a set of directions, he hadn’t been able to shake off the feeling that something horrible was about to happen. And when Iris had answered his question about everything turning out alright in the end, a little bit of that fear was suppressed. But what really concerned him was what Ianto had told him about the migraines Iris had.

“Iris mentioned a bit earlier that what she thought her migraines were, but I didn’t know what it meant.” Ianto said, looking at the leader of Torchwood.

They were in Jack’s office as they talked about Iris. Ianto didn’t reveal any secrets, but wanted to discuss this with the man. Jack looked at Ianto in surprise as he asked,

“What did she say?”

Ianto hesitated before responding with,

“She said ‘the drums’. I wasn’t sure if you knew anything about what that means…”

Jack shook his head as he replied,

“No… I hope that she lets me know what it is… but I think she will tell me when she’s ready. That’s the one thing that Iris has always done since she came here. Of course, not always on the moment we wanted, but she always told us. I’m relying on that.”

Jack then focused back to the present as he felt Iris’s eyes on him. He smiled and then pecked a kiss on her lips and let her go. Iris then sauntered back to her computer, trying to think of what she would say to Bilis Manger.

When everybody arrived after the night, they all went to the conference room to discuss about all the things that were pouring through the Rift

Iris looked up at Ianto, who was quoting something from the Bible.

“And I heard but did not understand, and I said, Master, what is the end of all these things? And he said, go, Daniel, for the things are closed up and sealed until the end of time. Daniel 12, verse 10.”

With that, Ianto kept the Bible open and looked at the team, who stayed silent for a minute before Gwen murmured,

“Sounds a bit close for comfort.”

Owen was looking at the setup with the Doctor’s hand and said,

“This machine’s on the blink, Keeps losing power. Sorry, don’t let me stop your portents of doom. Or have you finished?”

Iris glanced at the hand, still shuddering at the thought of how the hand was cut off and the Doctor had managed to just grow another one. As she was thinking about what it might have looked like, Ianto said,

“No, plenty more where that came from. Abaddon, the Great Devourer, who’ll lead the world into shadow.”

Iris looked up at Ianto and frowned, looking back at the hand. She then realized that the Doctor met a version of Abaddon in the episode, The Satan Pit. She was thinking about how Bilis managed to know about using the Rift as the rest of the team continued talking.

“Yeah, thanks Ianto. I can do without the superstition. You people love any story that denies the randomness of existence.” Jack said, glancing at Iris, who was just looking at the Doctor’s hand intensely.

Ianto smirked and Jack continued to say,

“Thanks. That makes me feel better Okay, I’ve been fielding calls all night. The government, UNIT, the CIA. Half the Western world and a good proportion of the Eastern are all asking the same question. Is this anything to do with us?”

Iris flinched at the mention of UNIT, knowing how blind that group was at that moment under the leadership of a certain Time Lord.

Gwen looked a little scared as she asked, “And is it?”

Tosh walked by Jack and the rest of the team as she said,

“I’ve run a profile on every reported temporal anomaly and tracked any physical or temporal pattern.”

The entire team looked at the screen Tosh was using and Gwen cursed. Jack had a look of disappointment in his eyes as he said,

“The cracks in time trace back here to the Rift. This city, this Hub, is the center. What you’re seeing around the world are ripples and aftershocks. The Rift is splintering because of you.”

Jack looked straight at Owen, who looked surprised as he said,

“What?”

Jack stepped a little towards Owen as he said,

“You opened the Rift without knowing what you were doing. You’ve caused the temporal cracks to widen. Time is seeping through.”

Owen then stood up, anger settling into his face as he responded with,

“If it wasn’t for me, you two’d still be in the 1940s. So are we going to sit around crying into our lattes, or are we going to do something about it?”

Jack looked at the rest of the team as sighed and ordered,

“Bring those who’ve fallen through time back here, into the vautls.”

Owen asked,

“and do what with them?”

Jack glanced at the medic and snapped,

“We’ll deal with phase one first, then I’ll tell you about phase two.”

Tosh looked upset that Owen was so angry at Jack, but she didn’t speak up, knowing that the medic might have gone a little too far. But she was surprised at how Iris seemed to be just staring off into nothing again. She made eye contact with Ianto and indicated towards Iris. The man looked over and he quickly went up to her to move her to the sofa so that she was sitting down at least.

Ianto went back to the group as he heard Jack say,

“We’ll think of something! Hey, this is not the end of the world. I’m certain of that.”

Iris’s computer beeped and Ianto quickly took a look and said to the team,

“Priority one attendance at the hospital. Mortality rate’s gone through the roof. They’re sealing off the area and designating a hot zone.”

Owen then quickly stood up and said,

“I’ll go.”

Jack looked at Tosh and said, “Tosh, go with him.”

Owen looked at his boss with disbelief and said,

“No thanks, I’m fine on my own. And it’s not safe.”

Tosh glared at him and said,

“I don’t need you to protect me like I’m unable to do that myself. And anyways, you’ll be even better with me alongside. Shut up and come on.”

Gwen looked at Iris, who was still staring into nothing and looked at Jack with a little bit of a disappointed look. She then said,

“Did you have to pick on him in public like that? You know that he just wanted Tosh and you safe.”

Jack looked down at her with a dark look and said,

“All of our actions have consequences.”

While Gwen and Jack talked, Ianto headed back towards Iris. He gently put a hand on her shoulder and the girl’s eyes finally focused and looked at him. Iris smiled as if nothing was wrong, and patted. Ianto’s arm to comfort him as she stood up and went to her computer to deal with the paperwork that would pile up.

After a moment, Gwen and Jack went to the police station to fetch the Roman who had fallen through the Rift. As Ianto was dealing with phone calls, Iris heard something rustle and looked up. She saw her future self again, but it seemed like a different version of her. Iris jumped when the woman’s eyes flashed with a gold light momentarily. Iris looked around and then looked back to see that her future self wasn’t there anymore. That scared Iris. She wasn’t sure what that meant. And she really didn’t want to see that again. Breathing out slowly, she put her head in her hands and then felt it. Her hands began their tremors again. In pure anger, Iris yelled out,

“Shit!”

Ianto came up, thinking something wrong had happened and then saw it. Her hands were shaking uncontrollably. He quickly went up and grabbed her hands, feeling just how much they were shaking.

“Iris? Are you ok?”

Iris looked like she was going to cry as she nodded, tears streaming down her face. Ianto wanted to be able to do something, but he couldn’t think of anything much as his mind went blank. Then he remembered her medications and brought those to her with water. Iris graciously took the medicine with Ianto’s help and sat down on the sofa. Moments later, Jack and Gwen were back with the limp body of the Roman soldier.

Iris saw Jack and Gwen putting the body into one of the holding cells and went down and heard Jack ask Gwen,

“Are you sure it was the same guy?”

Gwen answered, “It was definitely him. Bilis, the caretaker of the dancehall.”

Jack looked back at Gwen as he asked,

“That’s all he said, sorry? Well, what’s he got to be sorry for?”

Then Iris moved a little to let Ianto through as he pushed a Weevil into an empty holding cell.

Ianto huffed as he said to the team, “13 more reports of Weevils on the loose. We’re not going to keep up at this rate.”

Jack frowned and said, “Everything’s on the increase.”

Gwen looked at the Weevil and asked, “Can you stop them from making that noise?”

Ianto looked at the woman and said, “If you’ve got any ideas how.”

Jack looked at Ianto and Gwen saying,

“Maybe they’re time sensitive. This disturbance may be too much for them.”

Iris then spoke up as she said, “We’re now full in all vaults across all nine levels. Do you want me to activate the vaults below? It’s just we’ve never used them since… well…”

With that, she glanced at Ianto. The man looked down, feeling a little guilty still about the past.

Jack looked at Ianto and Iris as he responded, “Do it Gwen, maybe you’re right. Let’s run a search on your dancehall buddy. We need to find him.”

Gwen nodded and as they were about to head upstairs, Iris asked,

“I want to join. Will you let me? I think I can get through him.”

Jack looked down at the girl and wanted to say no. But he thought better of it and nodded as he went back up with Gwen. Iris was about to head up when she heard Ianto whisper,

“What do you want? Why are you here? This isn’t happening.”

Iris looked at him, knowing what he was seeing and when the man turned around to follow them, he froze. Iris looked at him and just turned without saying anything, giving him privacy.

When she arrived back at the Hub, she heard Owen say,

“You’re the big man here. You keep all the secrets. Well, now’s the time to tell us a few and tell us how the hell we’ll get out of this. Same with you Iris. You must know about what’s going. Let us know what to do.”

Iris froze at the angry look Owen gave her. She wasn’t sure what to do when Jack said,

“You want to know a secret? There is no solution. I can’t fix this. Because this was never meant to happen. The first thing you learned when you joined Torchwood was don’t mess with the Rift. But you disobeyed those orders, and now everything that’s happening is down to you.”

Owen looked angry as he said,

“I only disobeyed instructions to get Tosh and you back.”

With that he looked at Tosh, who wasn’t sure what to say.

Jack then looked at Owen with uncontrollable anger as he said, “And now people are dying.”

Owen responded to that with something close to hatred in his voice.

“What, so I shouldn’t have bothered? Who the fuck are you anyway? Jack Harkness? You don’t even exist. We’ve looked. So, if you’re not even a real person, then why the hell should I follow your orders?”

“Owen, stop.” Iris said, as she approached the team.

Owen looked up at her and seemed to be equally angry as he said,

“And you must surely know what’s going on and thinking of something Iris. You clearly know Jack as well. Why don’t you explain to us about who he is since he is so chummy with you anyways?”

Iris grew impatient with Owen as he spit out each word to her and she finally yelled,

“If you think that you’re so great, then yeah, keep yelling and complaining. Owen, you’re clearly not thinking straight and Jack’s secret is not up for me to tell. Sure, I know about Jack and his past, but that doesn’t mean I know everything about him. I know how he came to be here, but not every single damn detail of his life. So if you think you can talk to me in that way when I’m struggling to remain sane and not fall over in exhaustion, then go ahead, do whatever you want!!!”

Owen froze for a moment, shock hitting him as Iris continued in anger.

“I can’t believe that this is the limit of your trust towards Jack and me. Despite everything I’ve risked and will do, you simply can’t just let us handle this can you?”

Jack then said, “Iris, stop.”

Iris quickly stopped talking and glared at Owen, who began to look around with guilt. Then Jack said,

“Get out.”

Owen looked at his boss in disbelief as he said, “What?”

Jack had anger come back in him as he said, “Get out! I’m relieving you of your duty.”

Tosh jumped in as she yelled out, “No! You can’t do that!”

Owen stomped on the ground as he angrily yelled, “Bollocks you are.”

Gwen tried to take control of the situation as she said, “Jack, wait.”

Jack stepped closer to Owen and pointed a finger to the medic with pure anger as he said, “You’re done here.”

Owen yelled back at Jack, who walked away “What, so that’s it? The whole world is going to shit and you’re going to fire me?”

Gwen was clearly upset as she said, “For God’s sake, both of you. We need to stick together on this.”

Jack looked at Iris and then to Owen as he said, “If I can’t rely on you, if Iris and I don’t have your complete trust, you don’t belong here. That goes for the rest of you. Anyone who agrees with Owen, leave now.”

The team looked at Jack with disbelief as Owen, finally accepting the situation, said,

“So now we know how it is. So that leaves me 24 hours to savour the good times.”

Gwen looked at Owen confused as she asked,

“What are you talking about?”

Owen spit the harsh truth out to Gwen, “Nobody leaves this place intact. Sometime in the next 24 hours I get Retconned. All my memories erased. I don’t know where or when, but he’ll get me.”

Gwen then felt anger stir in her own chest as she glared at the 51st century man as she said,

“Jack this has gone far enough.”

Owen put his gun down and stomped out as he yelled back at all of them, “So I guess this is goodbye. Good luck with the end of the world. I would say thanks for the memories.”

Tosh looked distraught as she looked towards Iris, wanting Iris to step up, only to see Iris sighing out loud, clearly upset that Owen blew up like that. She saw Iris shake her head and follow Gwen and Jack out to see Bilis.

When they finally reached the shop, Iris looked up at the sign that said, ‘Stitch in Time’. If she was in better situations, she would have scoffed out loud at the irony, but she just remained stoic about everything. By this point, whenever she turned around, she would see her future self just standing there or following her. As she entered the shop, she saw her future self already there and fooling around with one of the clocks, though nobody else seemed to see the woman there.

Iris glanced at Gwen who was saying, “Wow. Some of this stuff must go back centuries.”

Jack responded with, “He scavenges antique pieces from the past, brings them here, sells them for a profit. Not a bad business plan.”

Then Bilis popped up near them by coming down the stairs as he said, “We all have to earn a living”

Jack looked surprised as he said, “You’re from 1941.”

Bilis looked at the man with curiosity as he said, “As you were. Hello, again.”

Gwen then asked, “How can you be in two time zones at once?”

Bilis answered nonchalantly, “I can step across eras, like you’d walk into another room At first, it was the most incredible gift. Now I know the reality. It’s a curse.”

Gwen looked confused as she asked, “why?”

Bilis coldly responded with, “I can see the whole history, but I don’t belong anywhere within it. So, your return to this time had a price. Time’s splintering. This city exists on a Rift in time. The only way to make it right is to fully open that Rift, let it suck back what fell through.”

Jack shook his head as he said, “No way. It’s too dangerous.”

Gwen hesitated as she asked, “Can we even do that?”

Bilis said, “Of course you can. Isn’t that right, ma’am?”

Iris looked at the man in shock as Jack and Gwen looked at her. She wasn’t sure what to say as she heard her future-self chuckle darkly. Iris shook her head, trying to ignore the other version of herself, but Bilis took that as an answer to his question. So she said,

“If we open that Rift fully, millions of lives will be at risk.”

Bilis looked at her and said, “And yet, you know that if you don’t, more will fall through. Lives will be lost.”

Jack pointed his revolver at Bilis and said,

“You know so much, you’re coming back with us.”

Bilis then just apologized and looked at Iris with curiosity and disappeared.

Jack swore and said to Tosh and Ianto through the communicator, “Trace the temporal activity around this location. We need to find out where he is.”

After Jack left, Gwen slowly went to exit the building with Iris when they suddenly heard the clocks sounding the hour when they shouldn’t be.

Bilis then appeared by them and stopped them from leaving again as he said, “Gwen. I am not your enemy.”

Iris looked at the man and said, “Leave her alone.”

Gwen just shook her head as she said, “In the cells, why did you say you were sorry?”

Bilis looked at the former police office and said, “Sometimes it’s better to live in ignorance, unless… do you really want to know?”

Gwen looked hesitant as she said, “Know what?”

Bilis held out his hands and said, “Hold my hands. I’ll show you.”

Iris muttered, “Don’t do it Gwen”

Gwen looked conflicted but after a while, put her hands in his and Gwen’s eyes unfocused. Suddenly she pulled out from the man and muttered with fear, “What did you just show me?”

With that she ran. Iris stayed a little and glared at Bilis, saying,

“Whatever you’re planning, change it.”

Bilis looked at Iris with curiosity as he said, “You have so much that will happen to you and yet you fear it.”

Iris ignored that comment as she had one mission she was focused on at the moment.

“I want to make a deal.”

Bilis looked decently surprised then amused as he said, “Oh? And what can that deal be?”

“I know you just showed her that you will be killing Rhys. Instead of that man, why don’t you take me?”

Bilis tilted his head as he thought about it. Then he cautiously asked, “Why would you sacrifice yourself?”

Iris looked at him and said, “Because you’re going to have to stop me before I blurt out to everybody on my team about who you want to raise.”

Bilis’ eyes narrowed and Iris wanted to step away in fear, but she held her ground. Bilis then seemed to contemplate about the deal and then said,

“I will think about it. But you can be assured that it must be either you or Rhys. If you tell your team, it will be that innocent man. And if you keep silent, you can be assured that our deal will go through.”

Iris nodded and bolted after Gwen. When both women reached Jack, he just looked at both of them and asked, “What took you so long?”

Iris just said, “Nothing really.”

They got in the car and Iris was in the back seat. She got in and she almost gasped as her future-self came back again, this time, taunting her.

‘I see that you’re doing just fine. Do you really want to die? For these humans?’

Iris tried to not look at what really was an empty space so she looked out the window and tried to ignore her. It was hard as the future-Iris kept talking to her and taunting her about how this was all going to end horribly, but Iris just continued to stay silent and look out the window. The future version of herself then disappeared after a while and Iris breathed out in relief.

Jack stopped the car by Gwen’s place and went in with the woman to help fetch Rhys. Iris realized that this was it. This is the moment that she would be able to say goodbye. But she decided against it. When Jack helped Gwen bring the tasered Rhys into the back seat, Iris held her tongue and looked at the poor man.

When they finally arrived, Iris let Gwen talk with Rhys and hid in the corners of the holding cells. Iris had volunteered to help Gwen with putting Rhys in one of the cells and Jack, without much though, had gone to his office to deal with UNIT. After giving Gwen and Rhys a moment, she waited for Gwen to leave the area. Iris had hidden herself in the shadows of one of the empty cells and had waited. 

Iris then heard Gwen’s footsteps leave the area and quickly stepped out. Rhys looked up at her and saw her unlock his door.

“Oh, do you work here? I’m Rhys. Gwen’s boyfriend?”

Iris looked at him for a moment and smiled as she said,

“Rhys, go after her. I know that she’s just being overly protective of you since there’s a lot of stuff going on. I’ll clean up here and follow you.”

The man looked at her and replied, “Uh, sure. I’ll see you in a moment then?”

Iris nodded and faked a smile. She waited for the man to go up and then dropped the façade. She turned around and saw Bilis waiting at the end of the corridor. Her facial expression was empty as the man said,

“Well, well. You did keep your end of the bargain quite well.”

Iris looked down at the curvy knife with immense fear and said,

“I’m ready.”

Bilis smiled evilly and said, “I’m so sorry.”

With that, he approached her and stabbed her in the stomach once, and Iris felt like screaming. She held in her breath and then couldn’t manage the pain she felt as her vision blacked out when Bilis stabbed her in the heart next.

Bilis quickly stepped back as he heard footsteps approaching as he saw Iris’s corpse on the ground. With that, he quickly disappeared.

…~~~…

Rhys stepped up towards the Hub and he heard,

“Did he wake up?”

Then Gwen’s voice replied with, “Yeah. Yeah, he did. Tosh, can you bring up the CCTV of the vaults? Er, just leave it on the screen. I know it sounds crazy, but…”

Then Jack turned to see Rhys and he said, “Rhys? How did you get out?”

Gwen quickly turned around and saw her boyfriend standing in the middle of the Hub with surprise in his features.

“Rhys?” She whispered out.

Rhys was confused as he said, “The girl let me out. Saying that it would be better to talk with Gwen about this…”

Ianto’s eyes widened when he saw Rhys when the lights turned off. “No…” Ianto whispered as he then yelled, “No!!!” and ran down towards the vaults.

Jack followed after Ianto, not sure what was happening. When they reached the vaults Rhys was supposed to be, they both froze at the sight. Blood was all over the floor and in the middle was Iris lying unconscious.

Ianto looked horror stricken as he remembered what Iris had said to him.

“…I planned something and I know you’re not going to like it, but this is where the secret between us starts. I’m going to make a deal with Bilis…. I can’t tell you what that entails, but you’ll know when the deal is done.”

He couldn’t believe that this was what she had been pointing to. He quickly kneeled and lifted her body to bring it closer to him.

“No! No! She’s gone. Please! No… We… we need to bring her back…”

Jack looked at Iris’s body and it felt like his heart was tearing into million pieces. The blood around her and how she limp she was… he wished this was a nightmare. Anything but this. She had promised that everything would be alright. He had promised to take her to meet the Doctor, and yet she was here lying on the ground… dead.

Ianto cried as he held on to her, and Jack heard Ianto cry out,

“What are we going to do?!”

Then he remembered again about how Iris said that Jack would be able to stop this. Determination came across his face as he lifted Iris’s corpse up and ran towards the autopsy room. Jack stood there, frozen and unable to move. Every moment that he had spent with Iris flashed across his mind and he felt like the sadness in Iris’s eyes finally made sense. She knew. Jack finally realized that Iris had known about Rhys and she had thrown herself instead.

“Why…” was all he could muster up as he continued to stare at just how much blood Iris had lost. And then he bolted after Ianto, needing to see Iris again. When he reached them, he saw Tosh and Gwen just staring at the corpse, not sure how to react at the death of their coworker. Rhys on the other hand was trying to comfort Gwen, as he was scared about what had just been done.

Jack came up to Iris’s corpse and finally looked at her face. She seemed so peaceful as her eyes were closed and almost looked like she was sleeping. Ianto cried silently as he hated himself. The weight of the knowledge that Iris was pointing towards this last night made him hate himself. Was this what she always felt? Did she let her guilt eat her away every time she knew what the case was? He looked at the girl who was now a corpse and wanted to just give up everything to be next to her.

Jack cleaned the blood from Iris’s hands and then held it as he remained there. The promises she had made. She had lied to them to prevent them from possibly finding out what she had been planning. The fact that she had held herself back from loving him so much, knowing that she would be breaking it through what she intended to do. It wasn’t fair.

They all just stood by Iris’s body and after a while, Ianto looked up and choked out,

“Jack… Iris said something to me last night…”

The team looked up at Ianto, wanting to listen to what she had said.

“Iris told me that she was going to make a deal with Bilis…”

Jack looked up at Ianto and pained flashed Jack’s features as he said,

“And you didn’t tell me?!”

“She asked me to keep it a secret!” Ianto said. He continued with, “Had I known that it would lead to this, I would never have kept it a secret. But she told me that whatever Bilis releases from the Rift, you will stop it.”

Jack looked at the man, realizing what Iris has done.

“She left you instructions.”

Ianto nodded and then grabbed Iris’s journal and handed it to him silently. Jack immediately opened it up and read the bookmarked page that Ianto had pointed to. Before, Iris had refused to let anybody look in the journal, but the fact that she had asked Ianto to give it to Jack made reality of her death that much more painful. He quietly read what was in there and closed the journal, holding onto it. In the journal, there was a letter from Iris to Jack.

Jack,

            If you’re reading this, I’m most likely dead. But this is really important I don’t know what must have happened but it’s crucial for you to finish reading this letter and then tear out the page and destroy it. Bilis intends to release Abaddon and if you’re reading this, the creature is most likely released. All I can hope is that Rhys is alive. I wish there was another way, but there isn’t and you have to make sure that you stop Abaddon. Abaddon feeds on life, and I’m sure you know what I’m going to tell you. You will come back by the end of this, and if everything works like I hope, then we’ll see each other again.

            I love you Jack. I really do. And if this is the last thing you read or hear from me, then please, don’t keep to yourself. Move on. I don’t want you to just hold onto me. I don’t want that. I want you to be happy. Thank you for giving me such wonderful memories.

Sincerely,

Iris.

He reopened the journal and tore out the page. He then proceeded to rip it apart and throw it into the trash can. Jack painfully glanced at Iris and then slowly looked up at Ianto, and asked,

“Is there anything else she said?”

Ianto shook his head and looked back at Iris, sitting down by the girl again. Jack looked at Iris, thinking back to her letter as he got up when Owen burst in to run over to see Iris dead.

“Oh, shit. What happened?”

Tosh looked at him with tears in her eyes as she whispered, “You’re back.”

Owen looked at her and asked, “Are you alright?”

Tosh shook her head as she finally broke into tears in his arms. Owen looked at Jack and said,

“How many more people have to suffer? Iris can’t die like this. She just can’t! She promised…”

Owen felt despair as he remembered how harsh he was to Iris and that was going to be the last thing she was going to remember about him. Him yelling at her.

“I’m gonna fix this. I’m opening the Rift.” Owen said as he rushed over.

Everybody but Jack followed him and Jack said,

“You can’t.”

Tosh said, “We’re gonna help him. We have to try.”

Gwen looked up, guilt and sorrow in her voice as she said,

“He said open the Rift and everything goes back to normal. I owe Iris that much for saving Rhys. Owen’s right, we have to try to fix this.”

Jack yelled after them, “Get away from the computer, Gwen. This is a trap. All these cracks around the world, they’re diversions. This is what Bilis wants. Iris said so.”

Owen looked at him, and said, “What are you afraid of, Jack?”

Gwen didn’t step away from the computer and Ianto helped type the password in, the pain of Iris’s death being too much. This would bring her back. He somehow knew it.

Jack drew his gun out and pointed it to Owen, anger back in his voice as he said,

“I said move.”

Tosh freaked out as she asked, “What the hell are you doing? We could get her back!”

Jack said, “Final warning. You’re a united front now? Iris is dead. There’s no guarantee that opening the Rift will bring her back. It’s only going to cause millions of death! Iris said so! You heard what she said to Bilis Gwen!”

Gwen shook her head as she said, “Even if that’s the case, I have to do this.”

Jack scoffed in pain as he said, “Yeah, cos you’re feeling so guilty about how you horribly treated her and degraded her self-esteem in the beginning. “

Gwen punched Jack so hard that he fell to the ground while Owen quickly grabbed the gun that Jack dropped.

Gwen yelled out, “Fuck you! I admit, I was horrible to her. I caused her pain and led her to die because of Suzie. But I tried so hard to make it up to her. She said that it was alright! She forgave me for what I’ve done. How dare you judge me! The one person I need to make things right with and you stop me from doing just that!”

Owen kept the gun pointed at Jack as he said, “We’re relieving you of your command, Captain. We’re opening that Rift and getting back Iris.”

The computer screen then requested for retina prints of all Torchwood personnel. Ianto grimaced as he realized what was happening. He quietly took the machine and went to Iris’s dead body and got her print. As the machine scanned her retina, he whispered,

“I’m so sorry. I know that you don’t want us to do this, but we can’t lose you. Not after all you’ve done for us.”

Then the rest of the team got their retina scanned. When he came back, Ianto saw Owen shoot Jack between the eyes and then shoot him twice more.

“He’s going to come back.” Ianto said.

Gwen looked at Ianto in surprise as she asked, “How do you know that?”

Ianto looked back at Iris’s corpse and they all fell silent.

Gwen then said, “We’ve still got to do Jack’s…”

They then scanned Jack’s retina and the computer began the protocol. Alarms began sounding all over the Torchwood base and then Jack gasped back to life, fearing what the team has just done.

“Oh, my God. What have you done?”

With that, electricity shot through the Water tower and then into the sky. An earthquake hit the base and as the team including Jack ran from the base, they didn’t see Iris’ corpse disappear.

Jack bit through his bottom lip as tears finally fell.

Gwen then said out loud, “It’s going to be all right, Jack. Everything is going to go back to normal.”

Then all of a sudden the team heard Bilis say,

“From out of the darkness, he is come.”

Gwen felt fear settle in her stomach as she asked, “What is he talking about?”

They all heard Bilis answer that question as he looked towards the sky and say,

“Son of the Great Beast, cast out before time, chained in rock and imprisoned beneath the Rift.”

“What?” Gwen muttered, not sure what she was hearing.

“All hail Abaddon, the Great Devourer, come to feast on life. The whole world shall die beneath his shadow. I look upon you, my god, and know my work is done.”

The team then saw just what they had unleashed and heard people scream. Jack looked at the beast and then realized just what Iris had meant. It finally made sense to him and he looked at the team and specifically looked at Ianto as he said,

“Ianto, I need you to get me to an open space.”

Ianto pulled the car over the waste ground as he stepped out towards the clearing.

“Jack, what are you going to do?” Ianto asked, not sure what the man intended to do.

Jack replied with, “If Abaddon is the bringer of death, let’s see how he does with me. If he feeds on life, then I’m an all you can eat buffet.”

Ianto looked at the man and realized what Iris meant when she said that Jack will stop whatever Bilis will release from the Rift.

Jack looked at Ianto and said, “Get out of here. In case things do go back to normal, I want you to be there for her.”

Ianto looked at Jack and nodded as he quickly went to stand by the Rover to see what Jack was about to do. If Jack died, he needed to be there. Iris would literally kill him if she did come back and had left Jack alone.

Ianto saw Jack grab Abaddon’s attention and then the man fall over in pain as the shadow fell over him. Ianto felt like he couldn’t breathe as he saw his boss give so much until he saw what was happening. Abaddon swayed before falling to the ground while Jack fell unconscious at the same time. He quickly closed his eyes as white light engulfed the area. When he finally looked up, he saw that Abaddon was gone and ran over to the dead man.

He knew that the man would come back after a while and put him in the rover to head back to the Hub. He quickly drove over to the Hub and found that the team was there already, with grim looks over their faces. He had carried Jack all the way over from the garage and desperately looked around for Iris.

He saw how the team’s gazes all went down when Ianto looked at each of them and he asked,

“Where is she?”

Owen looked up and went up to help him with Jack’s body and said,

“She wasn’t here when we came back…”

Ianto looked at the medic with disbelief and almost burst out crying as he didn’t want to believe what was said to him.

“No…” he said.

After a while of just standing there, Ianto muttered,

“We should put Jack somewhere comfortable.”

They all looked at him and Owen said, “There are no vital signs Ianto. He’s dead.”

Gwen then spoke up, hope in her voice still, “He survived when you shot him. When I first joined, he said he couldn’t die.”

Owen looked at her, clearly distraught himself as he said, “He was wrong.”

Ianto shook his head and held onto Jack protectively.

“Iris said he will come back. She told me that it will take days, but that he will. I trust her. Even if she’s not here, I believe what she told me. I’m not going to let her request go in vain.”

With that Ianto put Jack on the sofa and sat by the man.

For the rest of the day, the team waited for Iris to pop up. They waited and waited, but she didn’t come back. One day passed and she still didn’t come back and they feared that the worst had happened.

Tosh then looked at Owen, who was holding onto her and asked,

“Do you think there’s a chance that maybe she survived and when we opened the Rift that she was sent back home to her universe?”

Owen looked down at her and quietly said, “If she’s not back, I really hope that’s the case.”

It felt weird really. All her stuff was there, but the one thing that was not back was Iris. They had tried her home and she wasn’t there either, so they kept waiting, all of their hopes of Iris’s return dwindling by the hour. While not watching over Jack, Ianto had busied himself with cleaning up Iris’s desk, clearly devastated that she hadn’t come back.

Couple more days passed by, and Iris still hadn’t returned when they all heard someone gasp out loud and weakly say, “Thank you.”

They all stood up and saw Jack wake up. Ianto quickly helped Jack with dressing into fresh clothes and when Jack came back up, he had more color in his skin. They all waited at the Hub for him with dread. What were they supposed to tell him? When Jack stepped into the Hub, Tosh immediately ran over and hugged Jack. Owen stood there, aloof and tried to apologize when Jack cut in with a smile and said,

“I forgive you.”

Owen rushed over and cried in Jack’s arms. Gwen had also hugged him. And when they all had a share of hugs, Jack looked at Ianto and asked,

“Where’s Iris?

The team’s happy faces immediately turned sad and Jack felt like his heart broke again.

“Guys? Where is she?”

Ianto quietly spoke up and said, “She hasn’t come back. We couldn’t find her body anywhere. It vanished and she wasn’t here.”

Jack thought that his world was going to end. Why didn’t she come back? Everything else seemed to have gone to normal. Then he thought back to who Iris was. She wasn’t from this universe.

“No… no she couldn’t have…” Jack said in utter despair.

He held onto Ianto’s hand as he couldn’t imagine a world without Iris anymore. His legs gave in and he began to cry as Ianto held onto him.

…~~~…

The last thing Iris felt was just pain. Pain so great that it was the only thing that she felt. And then all of a sudden, she felt cool air and tubes all over her. She felt trapped and when she opened her eyes, the light above her burned. Iris blinked her eyes couple of times before she could see anything. That was when she realized where she was: a hospital.

Then she heard footsteps and a doctor come into view as the doctor said,

“Hello, I’m Doctor Scott. Do you perhaps know who you are? We found you without any identification.”

Iris looked at the Doctor and nodded, but she felt so exhausted that she couldn’t do much. Soon, the world turned black and she fell unconscious, unable to finish her conversation with the Doctor.

Days passed like this and eventually, she was discharged. While in the hospital, Iris had realized that she wasn’t in Cardiff, but back home in Seattle. At first, she didn’t want to believe it, but the brutal reality settled in and she realized that she had come back to her home universe. In the hospital, she had realized that she felt empty, and realized why. There were no migraines. The one thing that she had constantly felt back in the other universe was gone. It felt wrong without it. For so long she had grown accustomed to the migraines that though it was refreshing, she couldn’t help but wish it back. But when she left the hospital she had no choice but to go back to where she lived. What she also noticed was that she was not gone for long at all. Apparently, she had come back to the same day she had disappeared from.

For days on end, she just stayed home, feeling despair settle in. She had gone to see her family once, but she felt miserable and didn’t stay for long and had come back to her own place. But after a while, she decided to walk in the park nearby where she had first stepped through the Rift. Every day she went back, hoping that something would happen and take her back. And one night, Iris decided to just go after dark. She wasn’t sure why, but it felt like she had to. Listening to music, she walked around the park, almost absentmindedly.

Then suddenly, Iris felt a tugging sensation in her heart and she grabbed her chest in shock. She wasn’t sure what she felt and looked around only to see light where there was none before. It seemed to beckon Iris to approach. Iris quickly ran towards it and then the world went white and she closed her eyes.

She felt like she was falling from a tall cliff, that’s what you could describe the sensation. It felt endless. Iris wasn’t sure how long it really was that she felt like she was falling until she hit the ground with a strong impact. She rubbed her head, groaning in pain as she looked around and froze. She recognized where she was and she pinched herself in disbelief.

It was the Torchwood vault. Her breath quickened and in shock. She tried everything to see if she was hallucinating, and then the migraine hit her full force.

She was really back.

A smile came over Iris as she couldn’t be happier despite the pain in her head and she quickly bolted back to the Hub.

…~~~…

Back at the Hub, Jack had stopped crying, his tears having dried out and all he could do was sit there in silence as Ianto handed him a cup of water. He just stared blankly at it, not really wanting anything anymore.

When the team had threatened to kill him to bring Iris back, one part of him really wished that it had worked.

But it hadn’t. And the truth of it hurt. While the team cleaned up the Hub, Jack just sat there, all emotions no longer existing as he just stared blankly at nothing. Ianto watched the man and when a few minutes passed, he got up and decided to clean up Iris’s desk. The others quickly stepped out to remove the trash when Ianto heard a set of footsteps running towards the Hub, but not from the direction the others had gone to.

Ianto’s heart raced as both hope and fear settled in and he reached for his gun. That’s when the owner of the footsteps came up to the Hub, tears glistening in her eyes.

“Iris…” He whispered out, not believing his eyes.

He immediately dropped his gun and rushed over in shock. He blinked to see if he was truly seeing things correctly and when he saw her rush over, he ran towards her.

“Ianto!” Iris said as she saw the man run towards her.

She quickly rushed over and hugged him. Ianto wrapped his arms around her so tight that she felt her breath leave her body.

“You’re really back. We thought we lost you forever.”

She heard Ianto say. Then Iris pulled out and said,

“I thought I lost you guys too. I tried so hard to get back, and I finally managed. I can’t believe it!”

Jack heard the commotion and looked up and froze. He saw Ianto hugging someone until the person came into view. It was Iris. He stood up and looked over. When Iris felt someone else’s gaze on her, she looked and froze too.

Tears came into her eyes and she rushed over to Jack. She hugged him and Jack didn’t react until much later, still trying to process that Iris was actually there.

“Iris?” He whispered.

Iris said, “I’m back. I’m so sorry…”

Jack shook his head and immediately wrapped his arms around her and then without holding back, he slammed his lips on her. Iris’s eyes widened and she froze for a bit before leaning in, all thoughts escaping her mind.

Ianto watched in shock and then hurt. He realized that they had feelings for each other, but Ianto also couldn’t hope that he could maybe get Iris’s love too. He silently walked to alert the others, despite feeling hurt at the scene that had just played out before him. Despite everything he still smiled. She was back, and for him, that was all that mattered.

Iris had to pull away slightly to get air and Jack looked at her with so much relief and he said,

“I thought I lost you forever.”

Iris didn’t say anything but hug him again and breathe in his scent. Jack smelled oddly of cinnamon and the forest and she didn’t want to forget. She still quite couldn’t believe that she had come back. But nonetheless she was happy. Then a question popped into her mind,

“When did you come back?” She asked him.

Jack chuckled a little and said, “You come back after making us all miserable and that’s what you wonder about?”

Iris glared at him a little and said, “Jack, I’m serious. It’s really important.”

Jack saw that she was indeed serious about when he had come back to life and he said,

“Just a few hours ago. When they said you hadn’t come back… I thought my world would end.”

Iris saw how Jack looked haunted as he seemed to be remembering something he didn’t want to see, and put her hand on his cheek as she said,

“I’m back. And that’s all that matters.”

Jack opened his eyes again to see her brownish-black eyes and smiled. Then Iris grimaced and he instantly frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

Iris held her head with both hands and said,

“It’s my migraine… It came back when I arrived here.”

Jack instantly frowned but before he could say anything, three people had tackled Iris and put her into a hug.

Iris was on the ground as Owen, Tosh and Gwen were laughing and crying at her return. Iris looked at Gwen with surprise and then smiled brightly, forgetting all about the migraine and hugged Gwen tightly with overwhelming joy.

Later, Tosh, Owen, Ianto went to grab coffees and Gwen was in Jack’s office looking at the two of them as she said,

“How did you come back?”

Iris looked at Gwen and said,

“I’m not sure. I saw a bright light while walking at a park and then I felt like I was falling forever. And then finally, I found myself here where I happened to have died.”

“Then what happened to the Rift?” She further asked.

Jack looked at her and hugged Iris from behind, resting his chin on her head as he said,

“It closed up when Abaddon was destroyed. But it’s gonna be more volatile than ever.”

Gwen then looked at both of them as she asked hesitantly,

“The visions we had. We all saw people we loved. What did you see?”

Iris flinched and shook her had as Jack answered,

“Nothing. There was nothing.”

Gwen didn’t push the topic further, seeing how upset Iris became at that. In all honesty Iris didn’t want to think back at how she had been haunted by herself. It sounded ridiculous really, and it led her to wonder if the first time she had seen her future-self, the hallucinations had already been part of the Rift itself.

Gwen then asked,

“Jack, what would have tempted you? What visions would have convinced you to open the Rift?”

Jack responded with, “The right kind of Doctor.”

Iris nodded and smiled, knowing who was coming. Then her smiled died, as she realized that she would have to get ready. She pulled herself out of Jack’s grasp and smiled at him when he looked down at her confused.

Gwen smiled warmly at the two of them and left quietly to her desk. Iris kissed Jack lightly and then bolted off to get her bag that she had hidden.

“What are you doing?” Jack asked her as he followed her.

Iris then smirked and said,

“Well... you might want to get ready too.”

Jack looked confused and when Iris pointed towards the Doctor’s hand, he almost got it and quickly went to retrieve his backpack. When he stepped out, he saw the Doctor’s hand glow a little and Iris standing next to it smirking.

Then she said,

“I’ll race you to the TARDIS!” and bolted out of the Hub.

“Iris! Wait!” He said, flustered. But he quickly packed and ran after her, smiling.

When he was on the Plass, he found that Iris had managed to lightly pack a small backpack and had already almost reached halfway to the TARDIS. Jack yelled out,

“Doctor!!!!” multiple times as he followed Iris, his heart racing in joy more than he thought was ever possible.

Chapter Text

The TARDIS materialized in the middle of Roald Dahl Plass. Inside, the Doctor was opening up to refuel the TARDIS with energy from the Rift as he said,

“Cardiff.”

Martha Jones, his companion, was surprised as she asked, “Cardiff?”

Doctor explained really quickly, “Ah, but the thing about Cardiff, it’s built on a rift in time and space, just like California and the San Andreas Fault, but the rift bleeds energy. Every now and then I need to open up the engines, soak up the energy and use it as fuel.”

Martha smiled as she understood and asked, “So it’s a pit stop?”

Doctor looked at her and said, “Exactly. Should only take 20 seconds.”

And then as if something caught his interest, his brows furrowed as he said to himself, “The Rift’s been active.”

Meanwhile on the Plass, Iris laughed out loud as she bolted towards the TARDIS while a man in a great coat followed after her, running as fast as he possibly could.

Martha then frowned a bit and curiously asked, “Wait a minute. They had an earthquake in Cardiff a couple of years ago. Was that you?”

The Doctor looked at her, realizing what she was talking about and his eyes widened a bit and he mumbled, “Bit of trouble with the slitheen.”

Iris was almost by the TARDIS while Jack was breathing hard as he ran after her to catch up.

The Doctor kept working the controls as he said pensively,

“A long time ago. Lifetimes. I was a different man back then.”

Martha looked at him, not sure what he was quite talking about. As the Doctor walked around to command other controls, the pair didn’t hear Jack yell out,

“Doctor!!!”

Iris laughed again in pure joy and Jack had caught up to her. They both tried their best to get to the TARDIS before it would start to dematerialize.

The Doctor on the other hand, yelled out,

“Finito! All powered up.”

Then he saw the scanner and frowned as he saw not only Jack, but a younger Asian girl running towards the TARDIS. He quickly pulled the lever, trying to see if he could avoid the 51st century man.

Iris and Jack heard the TARDIS begin to dematerialize and pushed themselves a bit more. Iris grabbed onto the TARDIS while Jack put his arms around her and grabbed on, putting Iris between him and the TARDIS.

Then Iris’ face turned into one of unpleasant surprise as she realized what she was going to experience.

“Oh no…DOCTOR!!!!” She said as she braced herself to go through the Time Vortex, gripping the TARDIS tighter.

The TARDIS jolted and Iris screamed while Jack yelled out

“DOCTOR!!!!”

Iris thought she was going to really going to stay there forever in the Vortex when she felt Jack slacken a little and turned around in shock. Jack was about to die again. Iris then felt something in the back of her mind, but she wasn’t sure why she was still alive while Jack wasn’t. Whatever it was, she needed Jack to be with her and not drift away in the Time Vortex.

“Shit!” She yelled out and put her legs around Jack’s so that he wouldn’t fall off the TARDIS.

She closed her eyes and then wrapped one of her arms around Jack to make sure that nothing wrong would happen and screamed again, scared that she might fall off when suddenly, the TARDIS jolted as it landed and she fell off, hitting her head hard onto the ground and losing consciousness.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor looked up and quietly said, “Well, we’ve landed.”

Martha looked at him, not sure what to expect as she asked, “So what’s out there?”

Doctor whispered in response, “I don’t know.”

Martha laughed a little in surprise as she said, “Say that again. That’s rare.”

The Doctor looked at Martha and said, “Not even the Time Lords came this far. We should leave. We should go.”

He seemed to think about something, trying to balance options as he finished with, “We should really, really go.”

Then he looked at Martha again and after a suspenseful pause, grinned widely as he grabbed his trench coat and exited the TARDIS with Martha. The Doctor and Martha looked around, when Martha spotted two bodies lying on the ground, not moving.

She yelled out, “Oh, my God!” and ran over to the man first. She checked the pulse and said,

“Can’t get a pulse. Hold on, you’ve got that medical kit thing.”

She ran into the TARDIS while the Doctor looked down at Jack and walked towards him and said,

“Hello again.”

Then he saw the girl from earlier and frowned and knelt by her side and checked her for a pulse and muttered, “Oh, I’m sorry. Who can you be and what are you doing here?”

The girl seemed to groan and come back, which surprised the Doctor since she really should have been dead like Jack. She didn’t seem wrong to him like Jack did, so it made him curious. Then Martha ran out of the TARDIS and came back with the kit as he stood back up.

“Here we go.” She said as she knelt by Jack, looking at the girl the Doctor was standing by, assuming that he was checking on her. Flustered, she said,

“It’s a bit odd, though, not very 100 trillion. His coat’s more like World War II while hers is more like 2007.”

As she was getting to help the man, the Doctor looked down at Jack and said, “I think he came with us.”

Martha looked up at him with confusion and asked,

“How do you mean? From Earth?”

The Doctor glanced back at the girl, whose eyes fluttered a little, looked back up at Martha and said,

“They must’ve been clinging to the outside of the TARDIS.”

With a quick look at the TARDIS and back at the two, he continued,

“All the way through the Vortex. Well, that’s very him…”

Martha took off her stethoscope from Jack and turned to look at the Doctor as she asked incredulously,

“What, do you know them?”

The Doctor looked at Jack and said, “Friend of mine. Used to travel with me. Back in the old days. Though I don’t know who this lady is.”

Martha looked back at the man, who was dead and said sympathetically,

“But he’s… I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat. There’s nothing. He’s dead.”

Then suddenly the man gasped out loud and grabbed onto the nearest person, who happened to be Martha, making her scream as she turned to face him. The Doctor looked at him with an unreadable expression. Martha then looked back at the Doctor, saying with surprise,

“Oh, so much for me.” Then as she turned back to him, she said,

“It’s all right, just breathe deep. I’ve got you.”

Then the man smiled and looked at Martha carefully before saying,

“Captain Jack Harkness. And who are you?”

Martha smiled a little, still surprised that the man had come back as she replied, “Martha Jones.”

Jack smiled and said, “Nice to meet you, Martha Jones.”

The Doctor gaped at him with disbelief and said,

“Oh, don’t start.”

Jack rolled his eyes, as he said, “I was only saying hello.”

Martha turned back to the Doctor and said, “I don’t mind.”

While this interaction happened, Jack looked to the side and then saw Iris, who was still unconscious.

He rolled over, making Martha turn and look at him as he got to his knees and grabbed Iris’ head and rubbed a thumb over her face as he grew concerned and whispered,

“Iris?”

He looked up at the Doctor, who noticed something in Jack’s demeanor and said,

“Oh, you’re friend! Is her name Iris? Lovely name. Irises are truly beautiful flowers. The blue ones are my favorite ones though, since they mean hope and faith…” The Doctor trailed off as he realized Jack glaring at him with half-amusement and half-annoyance. He then realized the unasked question Jack had for him regarding the Asian woman, and said,

“She’s fine. Absolutely fine. Just unconscious. Although, she should have been dead.”

Jack’s eyes immediately grew wide and he was about to panic and the Doctor then realized that he scared the man and said,

“I… uh… she’s fine. Don’t worry about it. It’s just that we traveled a long way through the Time Vortex.”

Jack looked at him with a glare and waited for Iris to wake up.

“So who is she then?” Martha asked, curious as to who the girl was.

The girl had her hair tied back in one pony-tail, no makeup, a TARDIS-blue converse, gray jeans and navy-blue blouse on. On top, she also wore a black trench coat. She also had a small backpack that seemed to be lightly packed.

Jack looked up at her and smiled as he said, “Iris. She’s… she’s my friend… well… more than a friend…”

Martha looked up at him and saw a sad look in his eyes. The Doctor noticed and smiled a bit. But Jack looked back at Iris and whispered,

“Come on… don’t do this to me again Iris…you just came back…”

The Doctor frowned and asked, “What happened?”

Jack was about to explain when Iris’s eyes opened and she gasped to breathe in air. She was about to hyperventilate when her migraine hit full force and she limply fell back into someone’s arms. She looked up, panic coming into her eyes when she saw Jack’s face.

Her breathing became a bit more stable as she continued looking up at Jack, who smiled and said,

“Hey. Look who’s here.”

Iris frowned and then looked to the left a little and froze. She was met with a young-looking man with a pair of brown eyes and a familiar hairstyle and clothing. What she really noticed, was how piercing and old the eyes seemed. Eyes that didn’t do the show justice despite the descriptions.

“Oh shit…” Iris muttered.

Martha looked confused and looked to Jack, who managed to smirk a little more. The Doctor looked at Iris in confusion as he said,

“Sorry?”

Iris leaped out of Jack’s arm and backed away a little in surprise as she whispered out emphasizing each word,

“Oh… my… God…”

Martha helped Jack stand up and Iris looked like she had frozen in place. Jack laughed out loud and said,

“Iris Kim, meet the Doctor and his beautiful companion Martha Jones.”

Jack looked at how Iris’ eyes widened even more, if that was even possible. She looked like she was about to scream like a fangirl and he was about to laugh, when her eyes suddenly lost focus.

“Iris? No, no, no… not again.” Jack said in panic as he ran over to her when the girl swayed.

Iris groaned, putting an arm weakly on Jack’s chest, slightly pushing him away and said, “I’m fine.”

Martha and the Doctor looked at each other as the Doctor asked, “Jack? What’s wrong? Is Iris alright?”

Jack looked up at him and he said, “Iris has had these migraines since she came to our universe and she’s been gradually becoming weaker because of it.”

Jack then looked at her eyes and tried to hide his fear as he asked, “Iris, do you have your medicine?”

Iris nodded and Jack helped her take the backpack off, which Martha held to help and he quickly got the water and medications for her. The Doctor noticed how Iris’ hands trembled uncontrollably and frowned. He took out his sonic screwdriver when he froze as Jack’s words settled in, prompting him to look at Jack and ask,

“What did you say?”

Jack looked up at the Doctor and then realized that he just spilled Iris’ secret. He hesitated before saying,

“Iris came through the Rift by accident and we’ve been together ever since. She came from a parallel universe.”

He saw pain in the Doctor’s eyes and immediately thought of Rose, but his attention was brought back to Iris, who started coughing and shaking. He noticed that she seemed to be cold and hugged her a little.

“Doctor, we haven’t been able to figure out why she’s really like this. Do you think you can help?”

The Doctor looked at Iris and took his sonic screwdriver out, which grabbed Iris’ attention. But when he scanned it, he shook his head. He wasn’t sure if what his sonic screwdriver was telling him was possible. Jack’s eyes immediately dimmed with sadness before he hid his emotions, but Iris didn’t miss that. She smiled weakly up at him and said,

“I think I’m ok now. Sorry, I just panicked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s really you isn’t it?”

She had turned to look at the Doctor, who was staring at Jack in confusion. Jack smiled and said,

“She knew about you. We’ll explain later, but she knew that you existed and I promised her that she could see you.”

The Doctor then smiled and shook Iris’ hand and said, “Well, hello there then. I’m the Doctor. You’re Iris right? Lovely name by the way. Named after a flower. I love flowers…”

Iris giggled a little while Martha rolled her eyes as she shook her head. The girl was young, but she seemed really nice.

But even though Iris looked cheerful, Iris wanted to desperately yell at Jack for not letting the Doctor know the truth about how she knew about the Doctor. She had intended to tell him as soon as she saw him, but something in her had prevented it. And with Jack postponing the information, she was not entirely sure that the Doctor would appreciate them holding back on the truth.

 Then when time finally seemed to open up without something drastic happening, The Doctor looked at Jack who said,

“Good to see you.”

The Doctor smirked and said, “And you. Same as ever. Although, have you had work done?”

Martha looked confused when Iris burst out laughing, as if she forgot that she had been in pain earlier.

Jack glared at Iris, and then back at the Doctor as he said, sounding offended, “You can talk.”

The Doctor looked lost for a minute before smiling widely and said, “Oh, yes, the face. Regeneration. How did you know this was me?”

Jack nodded his head towards the TARDIS as he said, “The police box kind of gives it away. I’ve been following you for a long time. You abandoned me.”

The Doctor immediately made his voice sound indifferent and avoided Jack’s intense gaze as he said, “Did I? Busy life. Moving on.”

Jack glared at Iris, who was holding onto her stomach, still laughing, trying to sober up. He pointed at her and said,

“And you, why didn’t you tell me about his face.”

Iris stopped laughing, trying to control her breathing before choking out, “Well…spoilers…” and couldn’t handle Jack’s mischievous face and broke into laughter all over again. This made the Doctor frown.

Jack rolled his eyes as he tried to explain.

“Iris… kinda… knows things.”

The Doctor frowned as he looked at her and asked him, “What things?”

Iris stopped laughing as fear chilled her back as she stood up, feeling the Doctor’s intense gaze. She looked at him, and said,

“I… the parallel world I come from…has stories about you…”

The Doctor came up to her and said, “What kind?”

Iris’ eyes widened and she looked terrified and Jack pulled the Time Lord back, saying,

“We will tell you later. Right now, we need to figure out where we are.”

The Doctor warily looked at Iris, not so sure what to make of the girl as they all began walking.

The Doctor was in the very front and Iris was between Martha and Jack. Martha smiled at Iris and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Martha Jones. Nice to meet you.”

Iris smiled and said meekly, “Iris Kim…It’s an honor”

Martha laughed and said, “Well that’s a first.”

Jack smiled and began a small talk. Iris looked at the Doctor, not sure what to say to the Time Lord when she had so many questions, when she payed attention to Jack’s story.

“So there I was, stranded in the year two hundred one hundred, ankle deep in Dalek dust, and he goes of without me. But I had this.”

He pointed to his Vortex Manipulator.

Jack continued, “I used to be a Time Agent. It’s called a vortex manipulator. He’s not the only one who can time travel.”

Martha looked thoroughly impressed when the Doctor scoffed and said,

“Oh, excuse me. That is not time travel. It’s like, I’ve got a sports care and you’ve got a space hopper.”

Martha gasped with amusement as she said, “Oh ho, boys and their toys.”

Iris laughed as Jack rolled his eyes and said, annoyed,

“All right, so I bounced. I thought 21st century, the best place to find the Doctor, except that I got it a little wrong. Arrived in 1869, this thing burnt out, so it was useless.”

The Doctor, as if happy that it had turned out like that, said smugly, “Told you.”

Iris coughed a little as she whispered, looking at Martha, “Says the man who will use it.”

Martha looked at her and laughed while Jack, growing frustrated, said,

“I had to live through the entire 20th century waiting for a version of you that would coincide with me.”

Martha then looked at Jack and then Iris with surprise as she said, “But that makes you more than one hundred years old.”

Jack smirked and said, “And looking good, don’t you think? So I went to the time rift, based myself there because I knew you’d come back to refuel. Until finally I get a signal on this detecting you and here we are.”

Martha looked at Iris with awe too and Iris immediately shook her head and said,

“Hell no… I’m not that old. I’m from 2017 believe it or not. I came from the future to the past. Not that far of a past, but still… 10 years is still something... I hope I’m a normal human thank you very much.”

The Doctor glanced at Iris, not missing how she said, ‘I hope I’m a normal human’.

Martha then looked at the Time Lord with a frown and concern in her face as she asked,

“But the thing is, how come you left him behind, Doctor?”

The Doctor tried to not answer by saying, “I was busy.”

Martha looked a little pissed off as she said, “Is that what happens, though, seriously? Do you just get bored with us one day and disappear?”

Jack muttered silently, “Not if you’re blonde.”

Iris slapped Jack’s back hard, making him yelp in pain, as she glared at him with disappointment. But Martha hadn’t missed his comment as she angrily said,

“Oh, she was blonde? Oh, what a surprise!”

Iris looked a little panicked then, not sure how to deal with this when the Doctor turned around, clearly annoyed as he said, “You two! We’re at the end of the universe, alright? Right at the edge of knowledge itself and you’re busy blogging! At least Iris seems to know what to do. Come on.”

Iris looked at Jack, overwhelmed by what she just heard, and Jack smiled warmly at her and they continued walking. When they arrived at a cliff with what seemed to have a construction of sorts, Iris felt her heart tugging.

Martha was looking at it with awe as she asked, “Is that a city?”

The Doctor looked at it too as he said, “A city or a hive, or a nest, or a conglomeration. Like it was grown. But look, there. That’s like pathways, roads? Must have been some sort of life, long ago.”

Iris quickly cut in with, “It’s a conglomeration.”

The Doctor looked at her in surprise and gave her a questioning look, one of his eyebrows going up in curiosity.

Iris shrugged as she said, “It’s one of the things that I just know…”

The Doctor looked at her, then cautiously asking her, “From what time did you come through the Rift?”

Iris winced as she answered, “2017.”

The Doctor’s eyes widened as he whispered out, “Then you know my future?”

He saw Iris’ eyes darken and tear up slightly, as if remembering painful things, as she hesitantly responded with, “And some of the past that…well… that no human should really be aware of in this time period.”

The Doctor looked at Iris warily, realizing that she didn’t want to reveal something around Martha and Jack. He just curtly nodded his head and returned his attention to the abandoned conglomeration.

Martha whispered, still looking at the conglomeration and asked, “What killed it?”

The Doctor answered with, “Time. Just time. Everything’s dying now. All the great civilizations have gone. This isn’t just night. All the stars have burnt up and faded away… into nothing.”

Iris looked up at the sky, noticing how dark everything was.

Jack then spoke up, “They must have an atmospheric shell. We should be frozen to death.”

With that, Jack put an arm around Iris’ waist, bringing her closer to him. The Doctor was still looking up as he said,

“Well, Martha, Iris and I maybe. Not so sure about you, Jack.”

The Doctor and Jack looked at each other. Iris wasn’t sure what to feel about how Jack looked a little hurt by that comment. Then Martha spoke up, still curious about the conglomeration

“But what about the people? Does no one survive?”

The Doctor looked at Martha and optimistically said, “I suppose we have to hope life will find a way.”

Iris then nudged Jack and he looked at where Iris was pointing, which prompted Jack to lightly say,

“Well, he’s not doing too bad.”

Iris hit Jack again, which made all the others look at her as she said, “He’s not doing great at all. He’s being hunted.”

The Doctor looked at her confused not sure how she could possibly know that, when they heard the future kind yell out “Human!” and run after the man.

The Doctor then said, “Come on!”

With that they all ran. Jack laughed as he looked at Iris and said excitedly, “Oh, I’ve missed this!”

Iris rolled her eyes as she ran to the best of her abilities, holding Jack’s hand. When they saw the man approach, Jack let go and yelled out,

“I’ve got you! I’ve got you…”

The man looked terrified and muttered,

“We’ve got to run. They’re coming!”

Jack pulled out his gun, which Iris grabbed from him and yelled out,

“Just run you idiots!!!!”

She immediately fired two rounds into the air, making the future kind freeze. With that, they bolted the other direction.

Martha was looking at Iris and the man asking, “What the hell are they?”

The man, while panting, said, “There’s more of them. We’ve got to keep going,”

The Doctor said, “I’ve got a ship nearby. It’s safe. It’s not far. It’s over there.”

Iris muttered, “Not going to work.” And pulled the man along the other direction they needed to go.

The man then said, “We’re close to the silo. If we get to the silo, then we’re safe.”

The Doctor looked at all of them and asked, “Silo?”

Iris immediately said at the same time as Jack, “Silo.” While Martha said “Silo for me,” They continued running away from the future kind.

The man, upon seeing the gates, yelled out, “It’s the futurekind, they’re coming! Open the gate!”

The guard immediately yelled out, “Show me your teeth!” multiple times.

Iris showed her teeth while the rest followed suit. The guard immediately looked and having confirmed they were human, said,

“Human! Let them in! Let them in!”

The gate immediately opened up and they closed it after they came inside. The leader of the future-kind looked at them and said,

“Humans. Humani…make feast.”

The guard who had shot some bullets on the ground immediately said, “Go back to where you came from. I said go back! Back!”

Iris shuddered, which prompted Jack to hug her. The image of them breaking into the silo came to her mind and she wasn’t sure she wanted to see their faces at the moment. Jack, while hugging Iris, muttered to the Doctor,

“Oh, don’t tell him to put his gun down.”

The Doctor, concerned for Iris, looked back up at Jack and said, “He’s not my responsibility.”

Iris laughed a little, and Jack smiled a little as he said, “And I am? That makes a change.”

The Doctor noticed how Iris’ shoulders shook violently as if she was trying to hold back her laughter as much as she could. Jack noticed how the Doctor’s eyes softened upon the sight and smiled just a little bit, returning his attention to the situation at hand.

The chieftain of the futurekind looked at them and said, “Kind watch you. Kind hungry.”

Iris felt a tug and looked up, seeing Jack holding out his hand for her to grab onto. Smiling with appreciation, she took it and followed after everyone as the guard said,

“Right. Let’s get you inside.”

The man that they had helped earlier, spoke, “My name is Padra Fet Shafe Cane. Tell me, just tell me. Can you take me to Utopia?”

Iris grimaced but hid it quickly, hoping nobody noticed that, as the soldier said,

“Oh yes, sir. Yes, I can.”

Jack looked at her as they walked and whispered, “Do you know what’s going on?”

Iris looked up, trying to see if anybody was looking at them or listening in, and when nobody seemed to be paying them attention, Iris quickly nodded and squeezed Jack’s hand. Jack looked at Iris, not sure what to feel, since he just got Iris back. He didn’t want anything bad to happen, but being stuck in the end of the universe without the TARDIS, it didn’t sit well with him at all.

Then the guard that was taking them to the inside of the building asked,

“Who are you then?”

The Doctor perked up and said, “Hello, I’m the Doctor.”

The guard looked up in interest, and said, “A Doctor?”

“Mmhmm” The Doctor said, nodding his head with a smile on his face. Iris looked at the man, noticing that this was how the Professor would learn as to who this man was. Iris sighed as they proceeded inside the building.

Then the Doctor turned around to the guard and requested for the TARDIS. Iris had tuned most of it out, not feeling so well, and then looked up as somebody came down the stairs near them, paying attention again. The Doctor said,

“It’s like a box, a big blue box. I’m sorry, but I really need it back. It’s stuck out there.”

Jack squeezed Iris’s hand, but Iris just tried to stay upright without showing too much pain. Despite the medication from earlier, the pure exertion from running tired her out, and the migraine just seemed to have increased in pain ten times more. Padra then spoke up in urgency,

“I’m sorry, but my family were heading for the silo. Did they get here? My mother is Kistane Shafe Cane. My brother’s name is Beltone.”

The soldier helping them said, “Computers are down, but you can check the paperwork. Creet! Passengers need help.”

Iris then saw a young boy peep his head around the corner and approach them as he said,

“Right, what do you need?”

Iris looked at the boy and took in a sharp breath, accidentally catching the Doctor’s attention. The Time Lord looked at Iris, a subtle look of concern in his eyes as he noticed the sweat starting to form on Iris’ forehead as her skin looked pale. She almost looked like she was growing ill at an unnatural rate. He was about to ask Iris if she was alright when the soldier came up to him and asked,

“A blue box, you said?”

The Doctor immediately turned around, distracted, and answered, “Big, tall, wooden, says ‘police’.”

The soldier looked at the Doctor and then said, “We’re driving out for the last water collection. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you” The Doctor said in reply.

The soldier left them alone with Creet, and Iris trudged along with the group, not letting Jack’s hand go.

They all heard Creet say, “Come on.” And as they were about to follow Padra and Creet, Martha asked,

“Sorry, but how old are you?”

Creet looked annoyed as he answered, “Old enough to work. This way.”

With that, they followed along. As Creet was calling the name Kristane and Beltone, Iris felt even more and more pained as if the migraine was only getting stronger as they got closer to the center of the Silo. Iris looked around the area, particularly feeling exhausted herself as she saw how the people were packed inside without much.

Martha spoke up, distraught, with, “It’s like a refugee camp.”

Jack lightheartedly said, “It’s stinking. Sorry. No offence. Not you.” As he looked at a man who glowered at him.

The Doctor had a smile on his face as he said, “Don’t you see though? The ripe old smell of humans. You survived. Oh, you might’ve spent a million years evolving into clouds of gas and another million as downloads, but you always revert to the same basic shape. The fundamental human. End of the universe and here you are. Indomitable, that’s the word! Indomitable!”

But even though the Doctor was showing a positive mood, Iris groaned out,

“Yeah? In what cost?”

Jack looked down at Iris, surprised at her words. It wasn’t like her to insult the human species and he asked, “Iris what’s wrong?”

The Doctor looked at her and noticed the pained look in her eyes and said,

“Iris? Are you in pain?”

Iris’ eyes clouded a bit before nodding. The Doctor frowned and used his sonic screwdriver and frowned, getting the impossible signal as before. Jack looked at him with concern as the Doctor said,

“But… But this is impossible. She’s just human.”

Jack looked at him with surprise and concern as he asked, “What do you mean?”

The Doctor looked up and said, “It’s nothing.”

Jack shook his head as he said, “No, you have to answer my question. What’s impossible? What does Iris having to be human make something so impossible?”

The Doctor looked at Iris, who wasn’t paying them attention and shook his head. Jack was about to push him further when the Doctor put a finger to his lips, signing him that he didn’t want to discuss it with Iris nearby. Jack didn’t like that response one bit. The Doctor normally didn’t keep such secrets unless something was terribly wrong.

Jack cautioned her with a glance and Iris quickly looked ahead, trying to think about anything but the pain. But that was the difficult bit. It just really, really hurt and it felt like it was consuming her very being. Suddenly, Padra ran forward, and Iris saw him reuniting with his mother.

Iris also saw the Doctor look at something with interest and start to sonic it. She groaned in pain and leaned onto the wall near the entrance as she led Jack towards the Doctor, who said,

“Give us a hand with this.”

Jack looked at her with concern on his face, but she just waved her hand towards the Doctor. He reluctantly went to the Doctor’s side while he said,

“It’s half-deadlocked. See if you can overwrite the code. Let’s find out where we are.”

Iris watched, breathing heavily, when she heard Martha’s concerned voice, “Are you ok?”

Iris stood up straight again as she replied, “I feel miserable. But I can manage.”

Martha nodded and went back to the Doctor’s side, still glancing at Iris with concern occasionally. Then the door opened up and the Doctor almost fell in. Jack had grabbed the man in time as he said,

“I’ve got you.”

The Doctor said, “Thanks.”

Jack smirked and joked, “How did you cope without me?”

The Doctor laughed while Martha, with awe, said “Now that’s what I call a rocket.”

Curiosity got the better of Iris as she gently tugged Jack’s coat, wanting to see. Jack moved a little behind Iris and the girl gasped at the sight before her. But she quickly stepped back, feeling the intense heat emanating from the room and it made her feel more sick. She paled and leaned towards the wall again.

As the Doctor, Jack and Martha talked, Iris clenched the clothes around her chest, as she struggled to breathe a bit. When the trio stepped back and closed the doors, they found Iris breathing with a little bit of difficulty, hunched over.

“Iris? Iris!” Jack said, trying to help her breathe, but the pain she felt was expressed through her eyes as they didn’t register what was happening.

“Doctor, what’s wrong with her?” Jack asked, panicking.

“I don’t know. Her heartbeat is becoming way too fast.” The Doctor said, not sure how to help the girl who had just drastically became ill.

It didn’t seem like she was that ill earlier, but now it was as if she was going through unbearable pain.

“You gave her medication earlier? What was that?” Martha asked.

Jack looked at her and then the Doctor as he held onto Iris as he said, “It’s supposed to make her feel less pain and lessen overall effects. The previous pain medication that got rid of the migraines no longer worked. She had to change medications.”

The Doctor frowned and said, “You said that she had these symptoms since she came here?”

Jack shook his head as he said, “She’s fainted a couple of times, but that was because she hadn’t told us. It never was such a drastic change like this before.”

But Jack could only imagine how Iris had died just a few days ago, and winced. Hoping that her death wasn’t the one affecting her health condition now. Then suddenly Iris grasped her head in pain, and looked like she wanted to scream. Jack held onto her, when the Doctor was suddenly distracted by an old man who called out,

“The Doctor?”

The Time Lord looked up and stood as he said, “That’s me.”

Then the man grabbed the Doctor’s hands with excitement and yelled out, “Oh Good! Good! Good!”

The man dragged the Doctor, who looked around and said, “It’s good, apparently.”

Martha quickly followed while Jack held onto Iris and helped her walk to follow the group. As they entered the Professor’s room, Iris saw the woman say,

“Chan, welcome, tho.”

Iris groaned as Jack slowly helped her enter the room and leaned onto the wall. As the Professor was excitedly explaining things to the Doctor, Jack looked at Iris and asked,

“Iris? Please, let me know what’s wrong…”

Iris breathed in shakily and said, “Spoilers.”

Jack shook his head and said, “No, for this one time, you have to tell me. You’re here with me and we don’t have a home to go back to.”

Iris looked towards the Professor, and Jack looked, confused, but Iris didn’t say anything as she caught her breath and seemed to suddenly relax. Iris shrugged her bag off and took her medication, trying to ease the pain she felt. Jack helped her sit in the side and went near the Doctor, leaving his backpack by Iris’ side.

Martha came over and asked Iris,

“What’s inside here?”

Iris looked up, looking a tad bit better as she said, “Why don’t you take a look?”

Martha looked at her and opened the bag, only to reveal the canister that had the Doctor’s hand inside and said, “Oh, my God.”

She looked at Irish, shocked that they would have a hand in a jar just inside the backpack and couldn’t close her mouth. Iris laughed out loud, at the sight of Martha’s shock. Jack came back and looked guilty, then looked towards Iris, glaring at her a little, who still continued to laugh at Martha’s surprise.

Then the Doctor joined only to be surprised at the sight of his own hands.

Martha kept repeating, “A hand in a jar. A hand, in a jar, in your bag.”

The Doctor sat next to Iris as he stuttered, “But…that…that’s my hand.”

Then Jack closed his eyes, sighed, and said, “I said we had a doctor detector.”

The Doctor looked at Iris, who laughed at his incredulous face. “You knew about this too?”

Iris nodded as she wiped tears in her eyes as she calmed down a bit. Then Chantho looked scared a bit as she asked them,

“Chan, is this a tradition amongst your people, tho?”

Martha grew confused and lost as she yelled out, “Not on my street! What do you mean, that’s your hand? You’ve got both your hands, I can see them.”

Martha looked at the Doctor, then his hands, as she clearly saw both hands intact.

The Doctor grimaced as he answered, “Long story. I lost my hand, Christmas day in a swordfight.”

Martha scoffed, as she asked, “What, and you grew another hand?”

When the Doctor said, “Ummm, yeah, yeah I did, yeah. Hello.” With that, the Doctor waved at Martha with the new hand, causing the woman to lose her smile and glare at him. Then Iris looked at the Professor, wary of him, as he asked,

“Might I ask, what species are you?”

The Doctor looked at Iris and then back at the Professor as he said, “Time Lord. Last of. Heard of them? Legend or anything?”

Iris grimaced as a sharp pain hit her head when the Professor just seemed confused. The Doctor frowned as he continued with,

“Not even a myth? Blimey, end of the universe is a bit humbling.”

Then Chantho sadly said, “Chan, it is said that I am the last of my species too, tho.”

The Doctor then asked, “Sorry. What was your name?”

The Professor answered and said, “My assistant and good friend, Chantho. A survivor of the Malmooth. This was their planet, Malcassairo, before we took refuge.”

Iris grimaced at that, clearly thinking of a horrible scenario of the species dying out. The Doctor’s voice softened as he asked,

“The city outside. That was yours?”

Chantho nodded as she said, “Chan, the conglomeration died, tho.”

The Doctor smiled as he said, “Conglomeration! That’s what you said!” excitedly, then noticing Iris glare at him, his smiled died down when she said,

“I apologize for this man’s behavior. He doesn’t know when to interact correctly.”

Jack laughed alongside Martha when the Doctor said, “Oh… uh, sorry.”

Chantho smiled a little bitterly as she said, “Chan, most grateful, tho.”

Martha then said, still staring at the hand, “You grew another hand?”

Iris looked at Martha and then back at the Doctor as he said, “Hello again. It’s fine. Look, really, it’s me.”

With that, the Doctor waved his fingers and Martha shook his hand, the smile returning to her face as relief flowed through her. She said,

“All this time, and you’re still full of surprises.”

The Doctor chuckled and smiled widely while Chanto said,

“Cha, you are most unusual, tho.”

The Doctor smiled bashfully as he said “Well…”

Jack grabbed their attention this time, asking, “So what about those things outside, the beastie boys? What are they?”

The Professor turned around and said, “We call them the futurekind, which is a myth in itself, but it’s feared they are what we will become. Unless we reach Utopia.”

The Doctor stepped in, asking “And Utopia is…?”

Iris grew tired and leaned against the wall, almost half-reclining in her seat. All she wanted now was to sleep, but whenever she closed her eyes, she remembered the pain of Bilis stabbing her. The instant fear and pain that had gripped her as she felt the knife twist in her stomach. She knew that she wasn’t supposed to remember, but she did. Something wasn’t quite right with her and she knew that. She wanted to ask so many questions for the Doctor, but now wasn’t the time. Jack noticed Iris try to relax and a little bit of relief finally reached him. He watched her settle down and then turned back to the conversation. While the people were hunched over a screen, Iris hissed as she slightly jumped to a slightly crouching position and grabbed her head, feeling a tap of four.

Jack heard Iris hiss and went over to her when he heard the Doctor ask,

“Professor? Professor?” and he looked up, to see the Professor clenching his eyes in pain, as if he was trying to hold back a severe amount of pain.

Jack looked back down at Iris, frowning. When the Professor reacted to the Doctor’s calls, Iris let out a shaky breath and slumped forward a little, shocking Jack. He quickly caught her, letting her lean on him for a while before he helped her lean back on the chair again.

He stood up and hesitantly joined the Doctor as he made sure to glance at Iris every other moment. Suddenly, Iris heard the whir of machines come to life and dread filled her heart. She remained sitting down, unable to find the energy to help as she felt drained.

She felt the gentle pulse of four beats in the back of her head and she honestly felt scared. Her hands trembled, and this time, not uncontrollably, but because she was scared. And when the Doctor seemed excited about the arrival of something, presumably the TARDIS, Iris glanced at the Professor, and she instantly dropped her head into her hands again, groaning in pain, trying to keep control of herself and her sanity.

Martha and Chantho entered the lab and Jack looked up, only to see Chantho ask the man about his condition. Jack frowned and looked warily towards Iris, who held her head in her hands just like earlier, except, she wasn’t looking up. She had been like that for a while. He couldn’t help but look back and forth between the two people, feeling a sense of trepidation settle in again.

Why couldn’t Iris have one case where she didn’t suffer? Why did these things always happen to her? He thought it wasn’t fair. She hadn’t asked to fall through the Rift in the first place, and now she was suffering consequences for it. Not wanting to drag Iris in pain for much longer, Jack quickly returned to his work. He wanted them to be anywhere but near the Professor.

Jack saw the Doctor talk to the Professor and eavesdropped on their conversation, curious to see what the Professor needed to say.

The Professor said, “It’s just a headache, just noise inside my head, Doctor. Constant noise inside my head.”

The Doctor crouched down in front of the man and asked, “What sort of noise?”

The Professor replied painfully, “The sound of drums.”

Jack immediately looked up, pausing his work at the response. He thought back to how Ianto had told him,

“Iris mentioned a bit earlier that what she thought her migraines were, but I didn’t know what it meant.” Ianto said, looking at the leader of Torchwood.

They were in Jack’s office as they talked about Iris. Ianto didn’t reveal any secrets, but wanted to discuss this with the man. Jack looked at Ianto in surprise as he asked,

“What did she say?”

Ianto hesitated before responding with,

“She said ‘the drums’. I wasn’t sure if you knew anything about what that means…”

Jack shook his head as he replied,

“No… I hope that she lets me know what it is… but I think she will tell me when she’s ready. That’s the one thing that Iris has always done since she came here. Of course, not always on the moment we wanted, but she always told us. I’m relying on that.”

Jack frowned and wanted to pull the Doctor away from the man instantly. Instead, he crept towards Iris and knelt by her side. She had started to sweat again, and he instantly grabbed his handkerchief and dabbed it to dry her forehead. He quietly asked her,

“Is it the sound of drums that you’re feeling?”

Iris looked up at him with shock and pain, clearly exhausted, and without much, she groaned and nodded as she looked at nothing in particular. Jack wasn’t sure what to do, but something was affecting her the way it affected the Professor. And it was almost simultaneous too. Whenever the Professor felt pain or was out of it, so was Iris.

Then he heard the Professor say,

“I’ve had it all my life. Every waking hour.”

Jack froze again and looked at the Doctor, who noticed the frown on his friend’s face and looked towards Iris, who only could have made him frown like that. The Doctor noticed Iris’ face scrunched in pain, and looked back at the Professor unsure of Jack’s reaction. 

 Then alarms were the next thing Iris heard when she was not in as much pain, and then when the alarms were raised, she heard the Doctor say,

“Jack! Override the vents!”

Iris stood up, trying to see if she could help when Jack just stupidly ran over and said,

“We can jump-start the override.”

Iris yelled out “Jack, no! It’s going to flare!” the same time the Doctors said the same. Next thing she knew, Jack was electrified to death, and Iris saw him fall. She immediately ran towards him, and hit his chest multiple times as she yelled,

“You stupid, idiot!!!! You came back from death not that long ago, and you die on me again! Don’t do this to me!”

Martha came over and tried to do to CPR when Iris shook her head towards the woman. The Professor came over and said, “I’m so sorry.”

Iris winced a little at the proximity between him and her, as it magnified the pain in her head a tad bit. The Doctor stood in the back as he asked,

“The chamber’s flooded with radiation, yes?”

The Professor looked back and said, “Without the couplings the engines will never start. It was all for nothing.”

The Doctor made eye contact with Iris, who realized what he was going to say, and smiled a little trying to reassure her as he said, “Oh, I don’t know. Strikes me, Professor, you’ve got a room which no man can enter without dying. Is that correct?”

“Yes.” The Professor responded when Iris looked down at Jack, clearly upset at what was happening.

Suddenly, Jack gasped as he grabbed onto Iris. Iris held him, reassuring him that it was ok, when the Doctor said,

“I think I’ve got just the man.”

“Was someone kissing me?” Jack asked, looking at Iris.

Iris glared at him, shoving him back to the ground as she stomped her way back to the sofas, clearly pissed off at the joke. She wasn’t in the mood to take Jack’s flirtatious jokes at the moment. He had honestly scared her, even though she knew that he was going to come back. Later, Jack and the Doctor ran off to deal with the couplings while Iris waited by the area she was before. The beating was intensifying as time kept passing, spiking only when the Professor seemed to suffer from it drastically. She breathed out a little shakily again and grabbed onto the jar that contained the Doctor’s hand. Making sure she had it with her as much as she could.

The moment Jack wasn’t by her side, Iris missed his presence. While they were here, Jack felt like a solid, constant. And now that he wasn’t directly by her, she felt the fear trickle into her system and she wanted to cry.

She was waiting when she heard the Professor ask, “But he should evaporate. What sort of man is he?”

Martha shook her head as she said, amused, “I’ve only just met him. Iris knows more about him. They came together. Seems like they are a couple.”

The Professor glanced at Iris, who was staring off into space. “She doesn’t look so good.”

Martha looked at Iris, sighing. “I wish I knew how to help her, but she has been like that the entire time she’s practically been in the Silo… Jack’s the only one who knows anything about what’s happening to her it seems.”

The Professor frowned, looking at the girl with mild curiosity before returning his attention to what was happening with couplings. With that, Iris tuned out the discussion, trying to think clearly of what she had to do. But the pain that was building up in her head was so overwhelming she almost didn’t know where she was anymore.

Suddenly, the pain increased so drastically Iris groaned out loud. She immediately covered her mouth so that she wouldn’t make any more noise, but it was becoming almost unbearable. She fell off the chair and held onto the jar as if her life depended on it, wanting to cry out. Iris glanced up, seeing Martha look at something with shock on her face.

Iris realized what she saw. The stopwatch. She had seen the Master’s stopwatch. Iris forced herself up and walked towards the group, with only one mission in mind.

She heard Martha stutter, “No, it’s nothing. It’s…”

Iris walked up and said almost too calmly, “Martha.”

Martha immediately looked at her, not knowing what to do. Iris looked at her, hiding all her pain for the moment and said, “I think you should go to the Doctor. He’s going to need your help with some of the machinery, and I’m in no state to go right now.”

Martha managed to hide her panic and nodded, as she said, “Alright. I’ll go see what I can do.”

Iris nodded at Martha, who took the hint and ran to inform the Time Lord of what she saw.

The Professor looked at Iris curiously and asked, “Is she alright?”

Iris looked at him and said, “Yeah… it’s just that she had some traumatic experiences with stopwatches. I know it sounds weird, but it brought a rough memory for her.”

It wasn’t necessarily a lie. But the Professor didn’t seem to buy it as he suddenly had a distant look in his eye, his attention solely on the stopwatch in his hand. Iris felt a stabbing pain in her head and the breath was knocked out of her. She cried out as she tumbled to the floor. Using all her energy, she crawled back to the jar with the Doctor’s hand, trying to make sure to hold onto it since there was nowhere to hide it.

Martha bolted to go to the Doctor, not wanting to leave Iris alone. When she arrived, the Doctor started to say,

“Ah, nearly there. The footprint, it’s a gravity pulse. It stamps down, the rocket shoots up. Bit primitive. Gonna take the both of us to keep it stable.”

Martha tried to tell him what she found out, “Doctor, it’s the Professor. He’s got this watch, he’s got a fob watch. It’s the same as yours, same writing on it, same everything.”

The Doctor immediately looked at his companion as he whispered, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Martha looked at him with fear in her eyes as she said, “I asked him. He said he’s had it his whole life.”

Jack looked at her, not understanding the gravity of the situation as he said, “So he’s got the same watch.”

Martha looked at him, worry clearly on her face as she explained, “Yeah, but it’s not a watch. It’s this chameleon thing.”

The Doctor cut in explaining, “No, no, no, it’s this thing… this device, it rewrites biology. Changes a Time Lord into a human.”

Jack immediately looked over to them, worry on his face

Martha said, “And it’s the same watch!”

The Doctor tried to deny it as he said, “It can’t be.”

Jack looked at the Doctor and said, “That means he could be a Time Lord. You might not be the last one!”

The Doctor yelled out, “Jack, keep it level!”

Martha then said, “But that’s brilliant, isn’t it?”

The Doctor hurriedly said, “Yes, it is. Of course it is. Depends which one. Brilliant, fantastic, yeah. But they died, the Time Lords. All of them, they died.”

Jack looked at him, worry showing on his face as he realized, “Not if he was human.”

Then the Doctor yelled at Martha, desperation and worry in his voice,

“What did he say, Martha? What did he say?!”

Martha tried to remember and her face paled a little as she thought back.

“He looked at the watch like he could hardly see it. Like that perception filter thing.”

The Doctor glanced at Jack, clearly remembering that Iris wasn’t there with them as he asked,

“What about now? Can he see it now?”

Meanwhile, Iris felt the tap of four hitting her when the Professor came up to stand in front of her, looking at the jar in her arms like he was hypnotized. Then a great rumbling shook the surface and Iris grasped at the jar even tighter. Her head splitting with pain she never felt before. She wished that Jack and the others would hurry and come over.

Then she heard the Master, who had at some point, moved away from her, say, “Not to worry, my dear. As one door closes, another must open.”

She heard Chantho grow more upset by the minute and wanted to help the lady, but the pain made it difficult for Iris to comprehend most of the things. Her world felt like it was spinning and Iris felt sick.

Iris heard the static buzzing of electricity flaring, and a painful sound and thrum of a beat of four. She tried to crawl towards Chantho to help, but her body gave out. She only managed to grab to the jar and tried to crawl away as she heard Chantho scream in pain.

“No…” Iris muttered when she heard footsteps near her.

Then she heard the Master say, “And you… I wonder if the Doctor has stooped so low to bring an ill child. But no matter, you will die anyways.”

Iris felt the pair of hands snatch the jar away and Iris yelled, “No!!!” Suddenly, Iris felt adrenaline pump through her and she stood up, her view blurry, and tried to shove the Master, only to feel one of his hands on her throat.

Iris tried to breathe, feeling pain in her body at the sudden loss of air supply. She began coughing and whimpering as the Master said, “You can’t stop me. And since you are wasting my time… I will have to make you unable to move.”

Iris felt tears stream down her face as she felt the Master’s fingers dig into her neck, gripping it tighter and tighter. Then suddenly, she was shoved to the ground and a foot stomped onto her shoulders. The Master seemed to be saying something to her, but she was so disoriented that she couldn’t make head to tails of the voice. It just seemed to echo as it was ignored. She screamed out loud in pain and struggled as she saw black spots in addition to the splitting pain in her head.

She slowly felt exhaustion take over and lost consciousness. Her head lolled to the side, tears falling as her breathing became shallower.

The Doctor ran to the room to see Chantho on the ground dead, and he saw the Professor smirk at him with pain as he stepped into the TARDIS. The Doctor tried to unlock the door to no avail. He heard Martha and Jack in the background.

Martha had followed after him to find Iris unconscious. She immediately checked for a pulse and sighed with relief when she found one. She wasn’t sure what to do when Jack yelled out for help. She stood up and went to help Jack to hold the door closed.

Jack looked down at Martha, who saw the question in his face and said, “She’s got a dislocated shoulder and with that she’s unconscious, but she seems to be fine.”

Jack nodded, grateful, and struggled with the door with Martha. When the Master regenerated, Jack and Martha felt the exhaustion settle in and yelled at the Doctor to do something. But the Doctor eye’s turned cold after realizing who the other Time Lord was. He quickly sonicked the TARDIS and froze the coordinates. After the TARDIS dematerialized, the Doctor quickly picked Iris up and went to his two companions.

He quickly maneuvered his body the best he could and sonicked the Vortex Manipulator on Jack’s arm. When he succeeded, he transported them away from the end of the Universe and back to 2007.

Chapter Text

In an empty alleyway near a busy street, a vortex appeared to bring in the Doctor, Martha Jones, Jack Harkness, and an unconscious form of Iris Kim. The three people groaned in pain as they felt the aftereffects of traveling through the Vortex without a shell. The Doctor managed to keep his hold of Iris despite the major discomfort he felt.

Martha put a hand to her forehead as she moaned, “Oh, my head.”

The Doctor muttered out as he stretched out his neck and back a little, still holding onto Iris, “Time travel without a capsule. That’s a killer.”

Jack and the Doctor cracked their necks simultaneously to stretch a little. Then Jack went to Iris, noticing how pale she was, and took her from the Doctor. He then looked up at the Doctor, who began stretching his own body, and said,

“Doctor, we have to put her shoulder back in place.”

The Time Lord looked grimly at the shoulder and nodded, putting both his hands on the right places. Jack held Iris’ body in place when they heard the shoulder pop back in place. Iris remained unconscious for a few seconds before sitting up suddenly. The sudden movement shocked the Doctor and Jack that they had jumped a little, staring at Iris’ fear-induced eyes.

She gasped, acting just like Jack did whenever he came back from the dead. Jack immediately grabbed her to make sure she didn’t hurt herself. But Iris just pushed the man to the side a little, needing space.

Iris blinked her eyes a couple of times, trying to adjust her eyesight and to stop the world from spinning around her. Her body felt strained and she stretched a little herself, feeling sick. She pulled up her coat around her a little as she felt cool air, and to hide the pain she felt on her throat.

Jack helped her up silently, noticing that the Doctor was warily looking at Iris. Martha just seemed to be adjusting from the rough travel like Iris, and was still slightly groaning. Once they felt better, they stepped out to walk in the street.

Feeling a little optimistic, Jack said, “Still, at least we made it. Earth, 21st century by the looks of it.”

He chuckled a little as he said, “Talk about lucky.”

Iris glanced up at the Doctor, realizing how dark his face was from his recent encounter with the Master as he said, “That wasn’t luck. That was me.”

The look in the Time Lord’s eyes sent a chill down her spine and she questioned herself. If this was how he was without being the Oncoming Storm, how could she even tell him about herself?

They walked a bit of a distance when Iris groaned a little again. Jack immediately looked down at her, when she winced out,

“I… I need a break.”

Jack saw how pale her face became, and he immediately sat her down on a stone block, which prompted the other three people to sit by her. As he was helping her sit down, Jack said,

“The moral is, if you’re gonna get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with an ex-time agent and his vortex manipulator.”

With that, Jack wiggled his eyebrows a little to see if Iris smiled or relaxed. It didn’t happen and he tried to hide his concern, which didn’t go unnoticed by Martha. She wasn’t feeling well either, but looking at Iris, she could tell that there was something seriously wrong with Iris.

She then looked up at the Doctor and said,

“But this Master bloke, he’s got the TARDIS. He could be anywhere in time and space.”

Iris shook her head while the Doctor said,

“No. He’s here. Trust me.”

The Doctor looked around at the Vote Saxon posters and shirts people wore, his mind racing as he tried to sense the other Time Lord. He wasn’t really paying attention when Martha asked,

“Who is he anyway? And that voice at the end, that wasn’t the professor.”

Jack looked up at the Doctor, curious too, when Iris looked around the area herself. She felt the thud of four beats, a little dull compared to earlier, but still, it hurt. Jack then thought out loud, saying,

“If the Master’s a Time Lord, then he must’ve regenerated.”

In the distance, The Doctor heard someone tapping a beat of four, prompting him to look that way, remembering what the Master had said earlier. He saw a homeless man tapping that very rhythm onto a cup. Then he quickly looked down when Iris groaned again and began to rub her temples. The Doctor immediately frowned, looking at how distressed Iris seemed. She had gone pale again despite appearing ok just before the tapping started. His mind was racing at his observation while Martha asked,

“What does that mean?”

Jack responded with, “It means he’s changed his face, voice, body, everything. New man.”

The Doctor kept looking at Iris, whose condition seemed to gradually worsen as the tapping continued. Martha continued to ask,

“Then how are we gonna find him?”

That question drew the Doctor back to the conversation as he replied,

“I’ll know him. The moment I see him. Time Lords always do.”

Iris gripped the closest thing by her, which turned out to be the Doctor’s coat sleeve, surprising him a little as she struggled to remain calm. He could see how much she seemed to be suffering as her eyes tried to remain focused. He felt her shudder a little. He was about to ask her if she was alright when Martha vocalized her realization,

“But hold on, if he could be anyone…. We missed the election. But it can’t be.”

The Doctor got up while Jack looked up, holding Iris protectively as they all heard a voice say,

“Mr. Saxon has returned from the palace, and is greeting the crowds inside the Saxon headquarters.”

Jack felt Iris gasp a little and shiver. He looked down at her and saw a flash of pure fear go through her eyes before she became slightly unfocused.

Martha gasped as she said, “I said I knew that voice. When he spoke, inside the TARDIS, I’ve heard that voice hundreds of times. I’ve seen him, we all have. That was the voice of-”

“Harold Saxon… also the new regeneration of the Master.” Iris whispered out.

The Doctor looked at Iris with newfound concern as he said, “That’s him. He’s prime minister. The Master is Prime Minister of Great Britain.”

Then when he saw the Master kiss a woman, he frowned with a look of disbelief as he said confusedly, “the Master and his wife?”

Iris looked up, feeling the dread fill her as she realized what was about to happen, hearing the Master say,

“This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, that what this country really needs right now is a doctor.”

The Doctor stared at the screen a little longer before turning towards his companions. Jack and Martha were decently shocked while he noticed how Iris looked at him, clearly showing her fear. He noticed how pale she looked along with how she shook. It was evident that this wasn’t a reaction from her illness. It was from her fear. And if anything, her eyes also reflected regret and guilt.

“What is it?” He asked, causing the other two companions to look at Iris.

Iris wasn’t sure what to say, so she shook her head, murmuring, “It’s… it’s nothing.”

The Doctor wasn’t persuaded, but he had to make sure to figure out what the Master was planning.

The four people headed towards Martha’s house, riding a cab all the way when Iris hissed in pain. The throbbing of the four beats resonated stronger, and an image flashed in her mind with emotions.

The tapping of fingers on a glass table and pure joy from whatever had happened. Iris gasped in shock and terror at what she felt. She wanted to cry out, but stopped herself to bury her head into Jack’s chest, needing something stable to hold onto.

Jack quickly realized that Iris was in pain and hugged her the best he could, hoping that his presence provided some type of comfort. Iris moaned in pain most of the ride, trying to fend off the urge to bang her head into something to distract herself from the four beats in her mind.

When they arrived at Martha’s place, Martha quickly unlocked the door as she said out loud with relief,

“Home.”

The Doctor ran in and asked, “What you got? Computer, laptop, anything.”

Jack quickly set Iris down on Martha’s sofa, making sure she lied down comfortably before reaching for his phone. He quickly dialed for Ianto’s phone when the Doctor immediately said,

“Who are you phoning? You can’t tell anyone we’re here!”

Iris looked at Jack tiredly, sitting up a bit to see what was going on. She noticed how the Doctor hurriedly put on his glasses, and she looked up at Jack, who looked at her as if asking for an explanation of sorts as he lowered the phone and said,

“Just some friends of mine but there’s no reply.”

Iris then said, “I told them to not answer the phone.”

Jack looked at her with surprise as he asked, “Is this a part of what you told Ianto?”

Iris nodded and looked back at what Martha and the Doctor were doing. Jack sighed and joined in on what was going on. Martha had handed the Doctor her black laptop and asked,

“Here you go. Any good?”

Jack quickly grabbed the computer as he said, “I’ll show you the Saxon websites, he’s been around for ages.”

Iris was about to speak up when Martha said, “That’s so weird, ‘cause the day after the election, that’s only four days after I met you.”

Iris smiled just a little as she saw how amazed Martha seemed to be at that revelation. The Doctor and Jack turned around as the Time Lord responded with,

“We went flying all around the universe while he was here all the time.”

Iris then spoke up, “He’s been here with the leeway of approximately 18 months. I wasn’t able to track exactly when, but it’s within that time period from now.”

The Doctor looked at her with surprise as he asked, “How did you know that?”

Iris dropped her smile as she hung her head down a little and said, “I noticed a reading that I had set up for the TARDIS, and… well… I also know things too. I kind of expected this to happen.”

The Doctor immediately frowned as he looked at her, an almost dangerous look emanating from the Time Lord’s eyes. Jack immediately stepped in as he said,

“We’ll tell you later. We need to get sorted on this thing first.”

The Doctor nodded while Martha asked,

“You gonna tell us who he is?”

The Doctor scratched his head a little as he nonchalantly replied, “He’s a Time Lord.”

Martha didn’t seem to be satisfied with the answer, nor did Jack, who quickly glanced at Iris, realizing that she knew who this man really was. The woman asked,

“What about the rest of it? I mean, who’d call himself ‘the Master’?”

The Doctor admonished her as he said, “That’s all you need to know. Come on, show me Harold Saxon.”

Iris noticed Martha listen to Tish’s message and was about to tell her about her sister’s predicament when Martha just waived it off. Iris’ lips turned into a straight line as she stopped herself. She hadn’t revealed about her knowledge to the Time Lord and his companion, and wasn’t quite sure when would be a good time.

But then again, Iris felt irritated that nobody seemed to pay her much attention. Sure, she was feeling wretched and wanted to take a nap, but that didn’t make her feel any better. Deciding that she needed to wake herself up, she went to the bathroom, which Martha had shown her earlier. With that, she went inside and locked the door behind her, sighing out loud.

She let her hair fall out of its normal low pony tail and brushed it with her fingers a little bit before putting it back to its former style. Then, she washed her face with cold water. After washing a bit, she felt very awake and looked at herself in the mirror more thoroughly. Her eyes immediately trailed down her neck, which tried touching with her fingertips before hissing in pain again.

She immediately regretted it and noticed how a bruise was settling in where the Master had suffocated her. The pure blackness reminded her of another pain and she quickly lowered one of her hand onto her stomach, reliving the memory from the vaults when she heard a knock on the door.

“Yes?”

The voice that responded was Jack’s as he asked, “Did you want your medicine again?”

Iris grimaced and opened the door, shaking her head.

“I don’t want it.”

Jack looked like he was about to argue when Iris whispered,

“I… I told Ianto about what’s going to happen. I told him how he might be able to deal with it with the rest of the team. They should be safe for a while… but I’m not sure…”

Jack stopped her quickly with a peck on the lips, causing the girl’s eyes to widen a bit.

“But I’m assuming everything turns out ok in the end?”

Iris looked at him with disbelief, asking hesitantly,

“Don’t you want to know what happens?”

Jack looked at her, let out a deep breath, and said,

“I do. I wish I knew… but honestly, I wouldn’t trust myself with it either… It’s just…”

Jack risked a quick glance at the Doctor before continuing with,

“I think that if I know, it would change how the events need to go. We already talked about this Iris. Both you and I know it’s too risky to let multiple people know about the future.”

Iris sighed and nodded, before going back to the sofa to ease the bit of dizzy spell hitting her, making sure the bruise on her neck wasn’t so visible to anyone around her. The last thing she wanted was for the two people to freak out and then having the Doctor do something stupid to help her with it.

Once she returned, Jack finally spoke up again as he said, “Former minister of defence, first came to prominence when he shot down the Racnoss on Christmas Eve. Nice work by the way.”

The Doctor looked up, surprised, and said, “Oh, thanks. How did you know by the way.”

Jack looked at Iris as he responded with, “Iris told me.”

The Doctor stared at Iris with surprise again and said, “Well, Iris seems to know an awful lot.”

It didn’t really mean much from the Doctor’s perspective, but Martha noticed how both Jack and Iris flinched, as if they had been caught with their hands in a cookie jar. Martha decided to focus back on Saxon as she said,

“But he goes back years, he’s famous, everyone knows the story. Look. Cambridge University, rugby blue, won the athletics thing, wrote a novel, went into business, marriage, everything. He’s got a whole life.”

Iris shook her head as she said, “It’s not that hard making someone’s life up. Trust me, I’ve done that multiple of times for people.”

Martha looked at the girl with disbelief while the Doctor stared at her and was thinking deeply. Iris continued with,

“And the Master is a Time Lord, he can most likely figure out a way to hypnotize people on a massive scale using the technology from this century.”

The Doctor looked at her, saying “I was thinking the same thing. But with what?”

Iris looked at the Doctor, not believing that he hadn’t caught onto the hint that she just dropped onto him. She sighed and put her head back onto her hands, trying to ease the headache. By now, the lady, who she didn’t remember the name of, would be interviewing Lucy, Saxon’s wife, which happened after the Cabinet was murdered by toxic gas.

It honestly hurt her to think about it. But what she felt unsure of was the earlier pain that also led her to see a flash of image. She wasn’t sure if it was a memory from her experience with the show, or if she had seen it from the Master’s viewpoint. The feel of joy and excitement that had followed the image wasn’t so pleasant to think about.

And as she was seriously thinking this through, another flash of pain spiked and she cried out, not able to control just how painful it was. It caught the three people off-guard. And the Doctor, who was the closest person to her, immediately reached out and asked,

“What’s wrong? Iris! You need to tell me-”

“The drums…” Iris wheezed out, unable to control anything that was coming out of her mouth.

Jack flinched and he wasn’t sure how to deal with it and looked at the Doctor helplessly.

The Doctor, on the other hand, flinched visibly and he said,

“Tell me more! You have to tell me-”

“I’m scared.” Iris whispered, her eyes boring into the Time Lord’s making him calmer as he hugged her and said,

“It will be alright. I’ll help you… just… we have to find out a bit more about what’s going on.”

Iris whimpered and nodded, finally relaxing. The Doctor patted her back until he felt the young woman completely relax. He could feel how fast her heart had been beating from the sheer pain and fear that had erupted in Iris. He stood back up and went towards Jack, wanting to see if the man knew anything. Jack shook his head, answering the silent question. Martha immediately sat next to the girl, giving her a hug and waited a bit before heading to her room to change clothing.

Jack went to Martha’s kitchen to make coffee and said,

“But he’s got the TARDIS. Maybe the Master went back in time, and has been living here for decades.”

The Doctor, scrolling through Martha’s laptop, said darkly, “No.”

Jack asked, “Why not? Worked for me.”

The Doctor, having a million thoughts in his mind, tried to explain,

“When he was stealing the TARDIS, the only thing I could do was fuse the coordinates. I locked them permanently. He can only travel between the year 100 trillion and the last place the TARDIS landed. Which is right here, right now.”

Jack glanced at Iris, remembering what she said earlier, and said, “Yeah, but a little leeway? Iris mentioned that he popped up 18 months ago.”

The Doctor glanced at Iris, and said, “Well, it should be 18 months, tops. The most he could have been here is 18 months. So how’s he managed all this?”

Iris replied, “I told you, it’s not that hard faking information about a person’s life.”

The Doctor looked at her and nodded, seeming to grasp at that idea. He was about to say something when he looked at her again and said,

“Just like you said, the Master was always sort of hypnotic, but this is on a massive scale…”

Martha looked at them and said, “I was gonna vote for him.”

The frowned and asked, “Really?”

She shrugged as she responded with, “Well, it was before I even met you. And I liked him.”

Jack looked a little distant as he said, “Me, too.”

The Doctor glanced at Iris, who merely shook her head and said, “I didn’t. I… I was gathering information on him since it was weird how he just popped up right after Harriet Jones was removed.”

The Doctor noticed how Iris looked at him with knowing eyes, and looked away as he asked towards the two other people,

“Why did you want to vote for him? What was his policy, what did he stand for?”

Martha also gained a rather distant look as she said, “I don’t know, he always sounded good.”

Then Iris winced as Martha started to tap the beat of four. The Doctor immediately noticed and then looked at Iris, who was trying her best to hold in her pain. He looked at Jack, finally realizing how distant he looked too as Martha continued to say,

“Like you could trust him.”

The longer Martha continued to talk, the hazier Iris’ vision became as pain settled in. Iris groaned when she heard the Doctor break the connection by asking,

“What’s that?”

Iris let out a breath in relief from the pain as if immediately dulled, which the Doctor also noticed. Martha and Jack though, looked as if they had just come out of a trance as Martha asked,

“What?”

The Doctor pointed to Martha’s hands as he said, “That. That tapping, that rhythm. What are you doing?”

Martha shook her head, confused as she responded, “I don’t know. It’s nothing. It’s just, I don’t know.”

A fanfare then blared out on the laptop, causing at the same time Iris to wince in outright pain. The Doctor warily glanced at her as he turned Martha’s television on. Iris tried to watch without feeling faint, but it was an ongoing battle of willpower. The small but steady existence of the rhythm of four kept making everything else so hard to focus on.

The Doctor muttered out loud, “Our lord and master is speaking to his kingdom.”

On the screen, all four people watched the Master say,

“Britain, Britain, Britain. What extraordinary times we’ve had. Just a few years ago, this world was so small. And then they came, out of the unknown, falling from the skies. You’ve seen it happen. Big Ben destroyed. A spaceship over London. All those ghosts and metal men. The Christmas star that came to kill. Time and time again, and the government told you nothing. Well, not me. Not Harold Saxon. Because my purpose, here today, today is to tell you this. Citizens of Great Britain, I have been contacted. A message for humanity, from beyond the stars.”

On the screen, The Doctor frowned when a sphere came on and heard Iris gasp. He quickly risked a glance and saw how Iris tried to hide the horror, guilt and sadness that were seeping through her eyes. Iris had eye contact with him for a quick second before the sphere said,

“People of the Earth, we come in peace. We bring great gifts. We bring technology and wisdom and protection. And all we ask in return is your friendship.”

The screen then showed the Master again, who then said, “Oooh, sweet. And this species has identified itself.”

Jack stood by Iris, quickly giving the girl a reassuring squeeze on the arm as he saw her struggle and look up at him, no longer focusing on the screen. He looked back down and saw Iris looking at him, mouthing,

“We need to get out of here.”

Jack immediately frowned and looked to the TV, which Iris pointed to. He immediately nodded when the Master said,

“…. Tomorrow, we take our place in the universe. Every man, woman and child. Every teacher and chemist and lorry driver and famer. Oh, I don’t know, every… medical student?”

The Doctor’s furrowed brows immediately flew up as he quickly turned the television and saw Jack helping Iris stand up and all the trio ran as the Doctor immediately yelled,

“Out!!!”

Iris breathed heavily from the sudden strain on her body as the pain in her head increased tenfold when she also felt the heat of the blast hit her. Jack covered her body, but the sound of the explosion caused her head to ring, making it that much worse for her. Iris groaned momentarily before coughing severely as the Doctor straightened himself and hurriedly asked,

“All right?”

Jack looked down at Iris worriedly, who was unable to stand up straight. She was fully leaning into Jack to barely manage to stay on her feet. The Doctor noticed and nodded while he looked at his companion and checked on her. Jack immediately tightened his grip on Iris as he saw Martha yell at the Doctor while she phoned her family.

“I’ll do what I like!”

“How is she?” The Doctor asked Jack, worried about just how Iris could barely stand.

“I.. I don’t know. She’s been shivering ever since… Doctor, if you have any idea at all, please…”

Then Jack’s face paled as he remembered how Iris had told Ianto that she heard drumming, the cause of her migraines. He quickly said,

“Doctor, Iris said she heard the drumming. Can it be the same thing as the Master? Before we came back, I heard him say that he always heard it too.”

The Doctor frowned, as he recalled how it was strange that the Master had mentioned that. But Iris really hadn’t said much, so he hadn’t been able to deduce much. Now that he knew, the readings from earlier when they met made sense.

He looked at Iris, wondering just why this human girl was showing such signs when Martha’s outburst caught their attention.

“We’ve got to help them.”

The Doctor shook his head quickly, grabbing Martha’s arm, saying

“That’s exactly what they want. It’s a trap!”

Martha shook his arm off and immediately got into the driver’s seat of her silver car and said, “I don’t care.”

The Doctor immediately sat in the passenger seat while Jack helped Iris into the backseat before sitting next to her. Iris leaned her head onto Jack’s shoulder, feeling cold seeping into her bones. She shivered uncontrollably, a whine slipping through her mouth. Jack wrapped an arm around her, trying to warm her up. At this point, Iris was barely staying awake. The explosion had triggered something in Iris and all the control and willpower that she had felt slipped, not coming back.

Inside Iris’ mind though, there was constant turmoil of thoughts. She wanted to verbalize something, scream, or tell Jack things. But the exhaustion had flooded through her as the adrenaline and control had slipped from her own grasp. Then there was the fear. Not the fear of death, but more of the fear of having to face the Doctor’s wrath. The fear of why she kept hearing the constant drumming and the emotions that were not her own.

Because behind all the rational part of Iris, she also felt the excitement, bubbly emotions as if she was looking forward to something. It was almost maddening.

The Doctor quickly got his screwdriver out and scanned Iris again, frowning immediately at just how dramatically Iris’ condition had worsened. Then he noticed how Iris also seemed to be emitting a signal that seemed to line up with something akin to what the Master and she seemed to describe as the drumming.

His eyes’ widened as he realized it was real. Just who was Iris? Jack had told him that she had fallen through the Rift from a parallel universe. But why her? Of all the people, what was it about Iris that had her bonded to the Master in this way?

Martha skidded to a stop when the Doctor immediately yelled,

“Martha, reverse! Get out now!”

Martha followed that set of directions as the soldiers began to shoot at Martha’s car. Jack immediately wrapped his body around Iris’ almost limp form, covering her from any bullets that might hit them.

He yelled, “Move it!” to Martha, not wanting to risk Iris getting shot. He had seen her die not too long ago. He didn’t want to see her dead form again. And then he felt trepidation settle deeper into his gut as he realized just how Iris looked like when she had died. Pale, and limp. He shook his head, not wanting to think back on it.

After they were able to gain some distance from Martha’s mother’s home, Jack realized that they needed to ditch the car. Not really listening to what the Doctor was saying, Jack told Martha,

“Martha, listen to me. Do as I say. We’ve got to ditch this car. Pull over. Right now!”

Martha quickly found a safe place to pull over near an underpass. Once she parked her car, Jack helped Iris out, feeling how weak she was. The Doctor helped him while Martha quickly made another telephone call as she followed them. The two men helped Iris sit on a nearby piece of concrete, while listening in on Martha’s call. They had to stop because Iris had paled considerably. The strain on her body was so obvious that she looked like a dead person. The Doctor looked at his friend, who was whispering to Iris,

“Iris… please hold on. We can survive this. We went through worse. Don’t die again.”

The Doctor immediately threw him a questioning look, but Jack looked up at him and said, “I’ll explain once we found a safer place.”

The Time Lord was growing a little impatient. He had been waiting for Jack to really explain about Iris, but he realized how idiotic it would be to have the man explain here, where they were easy to spot. He then heard Martha coldly hiss to her phone,

“Let them go, Saxon. Do you hear me! Let them go!”

Jack felt Iris stir as she tried to sit up a little straighter, as the Doctor took Martha’s phone and muttered,

“I’m here…. Master….”

Jack couldn’t hear what the Master was saying, but the Doctor didn’t walk too far The Time Lord was looking at Iris during their entire phone call.

“You chose it Psychiatrist’s field day…. So, Prime Minister, then… Who are those creatures? Because there’s no such thing as the Toclafane. It’s just a made up name, like the Bogeyman.”

The Doctor visibly tensed when he heard the Master respond with,

“Do you remember? All those fairytales about the Toclafane when we were kids back home. Oh, and by the way, I think our dear little weak, sick Iris knows what and who the Toclafane are. But then again, I digress. But as I had mentioned earlier… home. Where is it, Doctor?”

The Doctor’s eyes looked like he wanted answers immediately towards Jack, who flinched, as the Time Lord muttered out, “Gone.”

The Master exclaimed, “How can Gallifrey be gone?”

The Doctor responded with, “It burnt.”

The Master asked, “And the Time Lords?”

And with that, the conversation kept on going until Jack saw the Doctor looking at them still with the intense gaze. He shifted uncomfortably. What could he possibly explain? But then he felt Iris’ body tense and immediately, her eyes opened wide as she inhaled a sharp breath before coughing severely. Her whole body was responding to the coughs as she curled into herself, crying.

Jack helped clean her tears and tapped her back, wishing that he could help in some way as he heard the Doctor look at Iris with something almost akin to worry again.

The Doctor asked, “Why do you say that?”

He saw how Iris was coughing terribly, as if her lungs were threatening to give out and all she could do was just wheeze. Her eyes were scrunched up in pain as she tried to gain control, but was too weak to do so.

Then he froze when the Master responded with, “The drumming. Can’t you hear it?”

And the Doctor heard a faint tapping on glass, a rhythm of four just like that signal from Iris’ reading on his sonic screwdriver. The Master continued to say,

“I thought it would stop, but it never does. Never ever stops. Inside my head, the drumming, Doctor. The constant drumming.”

The Doctor immediately bit out through his teeth, asking vehemently,

“What did you do to Iris?”

He heard the amusement in the Master’s voice as the other Time Lord said,

“Iris? That ill child? Why, is she finally dying? Well, that’s too bad.”

The Doctor frowned. He had expected the Master to flaunt about hurting Iris, but the Time Lord didn’t seem to know anything.

He heard the Master then say, “Listen, listen, listen. Here comes the drums. Here come the drums.”

And as he heard the man say this, he also witnessed Iris’ body jolt as if she was electrified and then the scream of agony rip through. His hearts almost stopped as he saw Iris’ eyes roll back and the girl’s body faint.”

“Stop it! Stop whatever you’re doing! You’re hurting her!!! Tell me how you’ve done this. Tell me!” The Doctor yelled into the phone as he saw how Jack quickly grabbed Iris’ limp body and look at him pleadingly.

Then the Master finally confirmed that he hadn’t known about what was going on with Iris as he said,

“Was that Iris? What makes you think I was hurting- Oh… oh ho ho… is it the drumming? Does she hear it too? Seems like she needs help, considering that you’re all on TV.”

The Doctor immediately frowned as he said, “Stop it. Answer me.”

The Master’s amusement was clear as the man said, “No, really. You’re on telly. You and your little band, which, by the way, is ticking on every demographic box. So, congratulations on that. Look, there you are. You’re public enemies number one, two, three and four. Oh, and you can tell handsome Jack and beautiful, but sickly Iris that I’ve sent their little gang off on a wild goose chase to the Himalayas, so he won’t be getting any help from them. Now, go on, off you go. Why not start by… hmmm… turning to the right?”

The Doctor immediately looked towards the right and saw the CCTV camera and quickly zapped it with his sonic screwdriver, before turning back to his companions, saying dejectedly, “He can see us.”

Jack immediately held Iris’ body in Princess hold style as the Doctor said,

“He’s got control of everything.”

Martha came up to the Doctor and asked, “What do we do?”

Jack quickly inserted in, “We’ve got nowhere to go.”

Martha looked truly terrified again as she asked, “Doctor, what do we do?”

The Doctor looked at them and said determinedly, “We run.”

With that, they all bolted, looking for a safer spot without cameras, too plan their next step. They had eventually come across an abandoned warehouse. Jack found a relatively new sofa in the warehouse. The Doctor saw Jack give him a look that obviously screamed, HELP and put his tan, trench coat onto the sofa, which was just long enough to have Iris lie down.

Iris had remained unconscious for the entire time, and she had yet to wake up. They had lit a fire in a can for lighting and heat purposes. Jack and the Doctor were waiting and working on figuring out technological things while Martha had gone out to fetch some food and medications for Iris.

The Doctor, curious as to how protective Jack was, asked,

“Are you serious about her?”

Jack smiled, a little exhausted, and said, “Yeah… I think so… but… we haven’t been… well, we never really got the time to go any deeper than admitting feelings and well… I don’t know how she truly feels.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows went up as he muttered out an “Oh? Why’s that?”

Jack looked at him and said, “She’s had this migraine since she came here. She’s experienced thing nobody really should go through at her age. Iris has done so much despite having been dumped through the Rift into our universe. She never really reacted against it much, but just accepted it and has been helping out. Also, well… I had lost her just before you came.”

And when Jack was about to elaborate further, Martha had come back. Jack and the Doctor looked up and the 51st century man immediately asked,

“How was it?”

Martha answered with, “I don’t think anyone saw me. Anything new?”

Jack said, “I’ve got this tuned to government wavelengths so we can follow what Saxon’s doing”

He pointed to his Vortex Manipulator.

Jack had been sitting close to Iris, hoping that she would wake up soon. He didn’t want to go too far away from her.

Martha merely rolled her eyes, not really interested that much about tracking down Saxon.

“Yeah, I meant about my family.”

The Doctor looked at Martha, taking the food, she was giving to him as he said, “It still says the Jones family taken in for questioning. Tell you what, though. No mention of Leo.”

Martha let out a careful breath out as she slightly smiled and said, “He’s not as daft as he looks.”

Then she looked up, with slight disbelief in her eyes now as she continued, “I’m talking about my brother on the run. How did this happen?”

Jack had grabbed the food Martha had provided just now and took a careful bite, making sure to save some for Iris. He groaned at the satisfactory feeling of filling his stomach as he said,

“Nice chips.”

The Doctor nodded his head a little as he added, “Actually, they’re not bad.”

Jack, once finishing his part of the food, then asked the question,

“So, Doctor, who is he? How come ancient society of Time Lords created a psychopath?”

Martha then quickly added, “And what is he to you? Like a colleague or-”

The Doctor looked wary as he looked back at all those memories of the Master as he cautiously responded with, “A friend, at first.”

Jack felt Iris stir as Martha and the Doctor talked. He quickly turned to see her eyes flicker before slowly blinking open.

“Iris?” He asked as he reached for her hand.

Iris groaned at the sudden force of awareness hitting her, reminding of her pain when she felt air get stuck in her throat and started coughing. Jack quickly helped her turn towards the side as her body shook while coughing. He patted her back, hoping that it would be quick. He was wrong as Iris uncontrollably coughed, each sounding more and more strained than before.

Iris covered her mouth with her hand as she coughed. With the other hand, she slightly pushed Jack away. Jack remained stubborn and stayed by her side when she finally relaxed back onto the slightly comfy surface she had been lying on. She slowly sat back up, leaning heavily to the back of the sofa. But she didn’t remove her hand. Jack quickly got up and went to get Iris some more water. As he did that, the Doctor came up to sit by her side. Iris looked up at him, slowly removing her hands, trembling.

When Jack had come back, Iris waved him off, saying that she was alright. After drinking water, she sat back, telling Jack to go back to focusing on tracing down the Master. Jack reluctantly left, asking the Doctor to take care of her. Iris warily eyed Jack’s retreating form, feeling guilt stack up as she had lied to the 51st century man again.

While she had been coughing, she felt something terribly warm and wet get on her hands. And she slowly unclenched her hand to find blood on it. Her eyes widened just like the Doctor’s.

“Iris? Are you alright?” The Doctor asked, glancing at Jack.

Iris wasn’t sure how to respond as she quickly wiped the blood with a handkerchief she had in her pocket. After she put it back into her pocket, the Doctor grabbed her attention as he asked,

“How are you really feeling?”

Iris responded, her voice sounding all scratchy and exhausted.

“I feel horrible. I think I’m forming a bruise on my neck.”

“Here, let me check.” The Doctor said

With that, he slightly moved the collar of Iris’ coat and froze at what he saw. On Iris’ throat was a deep purple handprint-shaped bruise. Anger bubbled in the Doctor as he gently moved his finger on Iris’ skin where the bruise was.

Iris quietly hissed, not wanting to grab Jack’s attention.

“He did this to you…”

Iris nodded, though the statement really didn’t sound like a question at all. She saw the Doctor shift his position a little more comfortably and reached out to her neck with both hands, glowing a bit of a golden color. This alarmed Iris and she quickly swatted his hands as he was saying,

“Here let me-”

When she had succeeded in moving his hands away, he frowned as she glared at him and said,

“I don’t want you to give me your regeneration energy.”

The Doctor tried to argue when Iris just shook her head and said,

“I know that you don’t want me to be in pain, but that’s not the right way to do it Doctor. I don’t want you to give me a handful of your life because of a bruise. I’ll… I will be fine, just give me a moment.”

The Doctor looked at her and said, “You shouldn’t be hurt. Let me help you.”

Iris tiredly smiled and just shook her head silently as she grabbed his hands with her own and quietly said,

“I… I need to tell you something. Regarding my universe.”

The Doctor looked at her with surprise when he noticed how her eyes sharpened as if her senses were heightened. He nodded, gulping a little as he indicated her to continue talking.

“Where I’m from, your life, some of your adventures, are publicized as a television show. While others are published in several types of media such as a radio story or even comics…”

The Doctor frowned and he asked, “Why would you tell me this now?”

Iris breathed out a little, scared of how he would react further as she said,

“I… I need you to know that I can’t tell you details about your future. Jack and I… we had settled on the thought that just maybe, what I do know about future events are strictly fixed points of time. I… I can give you hints, but I’m not exactly sure how my presence will change it. And Doctor… if anything were to happen to me… I need you to know some things and help me out.”

The Doctor saw Iris grab something from her pocket. It looked like a small communication device and he gently took it from her offered hand as she said,

“I need you to give this to Jack. It will communicate with people we worked with. Ianto, the person with the other device, he knows what to do from our base. I warned him and our team about what the Master tried to plan for them, because I… I just couldn’t let them go through whatever will happen.”

The Doctor looked at her as he cautiously asked,

“So you know my future and my past?”

Iris nodded, waiting for him to bombard her with questions, yell at her for not saying anything until now, or to just be angry with her. None of those happened. There was a long silent moment as the Doctor tightened his grip on her hands. As the Doctor looked up, he quietly asked,

“Is there anything else that you want to tell me?”

Iris bit her lower lip, thinking through the hazy mind, trying to think of something, when she asked,

“What’s wrong with me? Why can I hear the drums?”

The Doctor looked around and Iris realized that the Doctor was looking for Jack, when she said,

“I don’t need you to tell him just yet. I… If I’m dying, let me know…I need to know. This might be the last time I have control of-”

With that she began coughing again, unable to control the pain and fear in her. The Doctor quickly helped position her to make her more comfortable.

He hesitated a little when Iris calmed down again as he said,

“It… It’s rare… but I think you are bonded with the Master.”

Iris’ eyes widened as she tried to process it and asked, “How? What do you mean bonded?”

The Doctor shook his head as he said, “I’m not sure. The Master isn’t aware of it either, which makes this that much more difficult to figure out. But that might be why you can also hear the drums. This bond, it’s affecting you physically most likely because it was forced upon you. As far as I can tell, the bond is supposed to be a mental, emotional, and physical link. But so far, the bond has been hidden from both of you and therefore I can’t really give you a definite answer as to whether my guess is right.”

Iris then thought back to the flashes of emotions as she warily said, “Then those emotions I felt earlier, the… joy and ecstasy.. it’s because of that bond…”

The Doctor nodded, and hugged Iris to comfort her as she whispered to him,

“I’m scared…”

He noticed how exhausted Iris seemed to be as she struggled to keep her eyes open. She was so weak that she seemed to be unable to manage her own mind that the Master’s emotions seemed to be affecting her too. The Doctor tucked a loose hair behind Iris’ right ear, and looked at the girl closely again.

Iris’ eyes had reminded of someone, but he wasn’t sure who it had been. From the very beginning, she had known things that others normally shouldn’t have. It all made sense when she had just explained them to him. He had felt anger when she had told him about how his life was just a form of media made for enjoyment. But when he had looked back at Iris, the anger died as her eyes reflected certain emotions such as guilt, anguish, and fear.

That was when he realized that she reminded him of himself. How his companions would describe how old and tired his eyes looked compared to his own face. Iris was almost the perfect example of someone who knew what it was like to know the future and leave it to play out, despite having the slightest chance of saving one more person.

After that realization, he couldn’t yell at her. The bruise on her throat that she had been hiding, not letting him use his regeneration energy on her, her genuine fear that she hadn’t explained the reasoning behind… it stopped him from yelling at her. He was upset, but Iris’ current physical state was more upsetting.

Whatever she had experienced while staying with Jack, it had clearly left a scar in her own mind. Iris then sat back, and asked him,

“How do I break the bond?”

The Doctor looked up at her and then grimaced a little as he said, “Somebody else has to form the bond with you. This is mostly a Time Lord thing, so-”

“Only another Time Lord can break it by forming a new bond…” Iris said knowingly.

The Doctor nodded and Iris tried to think again, which was difficult as she couldn’t really focus anymore.  Then she rambled, needing an explanation at the quick thought that had popped up randomly.

“Doctor, I… I need help with something.” She said.

The Doctor replied, “What is it?”

“Jack… doesn’t know this, and I don’t want you to tell him. But… recently, I… I gave my life in place of another person. I had died when the Rift was opened. When the event was settled, time returned to before anything had taken place. I shouldn’t be able to remember anything… but-”

The Doctor’s eyes widened again in surprise as he continued her sentence this time with, “but you remember your death. The other timeline.”

Iris nodded, not sure what to expect. The Doctor looked at her curiously and warily at the same time as he furrowed his brows, thinking for a possible explanation. However, he couldn’t think of one as he theorized,

“It might be because you fell through the Rift. The Rift energy might be somehow linked to you coming through, but I’m not sure…and… and I’m sorry.”

Iris smiled at how the Doctor looked at her knowingly. He was another person who probably understood what it was like to have multiple timelines or memories be shoved inside his head somewhere. Iris then saw Jack working on the Vortex Manipulator again and she gently poked the Doctor to go back to Jack, making sure the Doctor remembered to give the device to Jack.

Jack’s Vortex Manipulator beeped and the man said,

“Encrypted channel with files attached. Don’t recognize it.”

The Doctor quickly handed Jack the laptop as he said,

“Patch it through to the laptop.”

Jack hesitantly looked up at Iris, who nodded and he said,

“Since I suspect Iris told you about herself, I… there’s something we haven’t told you.”

The Doctor’s eyes quickly reflected anger as he saw the Torchwood logo on the laptop and looked at Jack and Iris.

He muttered, “You both work for Torchwood.”

Iris grimaced and stood up, sitting a little closer to Jack as she said,

“Jack changed Torchwood. There’s only about six of us working for Torchwood. It’s no longer like the old regime.”

The Doctor looked at both of them as he asked, “Everything Torchwood did, and you’re part of it?”

Jack responded to that accusation as he said, “The old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf. I rebuilt it, I changed it, and when I did that, I did for you in your honor. And Iris, when she fell through the Rift, if she thought we were evil, she would never have joined. I think you can tell that much from what she told you so far.”

Iris glanced down at Jack in surprise as the Doctor looked up at her again and nodded. Then he hit the play button to see the message. Though Iris knew what it consisted of, she really felt remorse for the woman. When the message finished playing, the Doctor immediately asked,

“What’s the Archangel Network?”

Martha responded as she took her phone out of her pocket, “I’ve got Archangel. Everyone’s got it.”

Iris spoke with, “I don’t have it. I suspected as much and just couldn’t bear the thought of getting one from that. So I built the communication device I gave you earlier.”

With that, the Doctor looked at her device and asked, “You made this yourself?”

Iris shrugged a little as she nonchalantly responded with, “I’m not the Torchwood assistant technician and medic for nothing you know. I had to prove to Jack that I know things.”

The Doctor looked at her, clearly impressed, while Jack frowned and said, “When did you make this?”

The Doctor handed him the device and Iris explained tiredly, “Before we left, when I told Ianto everything, I handed him a second device. I knew we had to work around the Archangel network, and it had been a secret project of mine so that Saxon wouldn’t have noticed. We can contact Ianto with that right now, but make sure to keep it short, the signal can be noticed if the conversation is too long.”

Jack smiled immediately at her and asked, “So the team’s safe?”

Iris grimaced a little as she said, “If they stay in the Hub without detecting too much attention to themselves for a year. Martha, you might as well need to know where we are located.”

Martha looked at her in surprise as she asked, “Why? What do you know?”

This time, Jack responded to Martha as he said, “She fell through the Rift from a different universe that is also from the future. Since she knows about our future, she… if to simply explain it, she apparently planned to help you reach contact with our team.”

Iris nodded and explained, “The things that will play out once the Toclafane are here, they will cease to exist and return to the time before they do arrive. But Martha, your important in all of this…”

Then Iris hesitated. She could tell them now what to do, or not. As she weighed her options, the Doctor looked at her and asked,

“You’re not seriously thinking of telling us what to do, are you?”

Iris looked up at him with guilt as he shook his head.

“Don’t. Don’t tell us. Whatever you know, let it play out. Like you and Jack had agreed with, this might seriously change a fixed point in time. If anything, let’s discuss this a little later.”

Iris nodded, not sure when that “little later” will actually be.

And then the Doctor questioned about the phones asking, “Why would he put so much work into making a network?”

Iris answered that question, “If he is able to hypnotize people, the rhythm, couldn’t it work to be a signal or magnifier of sorts? Spread it out throughout the world and basically lay it out so that they would vote for him.”

The Doctor gaped as he realized what she was saying and yelled out,

“Oh, I’m thick. This head of mine is thick, thickity thick thick!! Yes! You’re absolutely right.”

With that, he immediately tested out Martha’s phone, which immediately sounded out the signal, making Iris wince in pain, causing the Doctor to stop the noise immediately. The signal within the phone was painful enough, and when it became an audible noise, it seemed to magnify her pain.

Jack glared at the Doctor as he asked,

“Any way you can stop it?”

The Doctor immediately looked a little downcast as he said, “Not from down here. But now we know how he’s doing it.”

Martha smiled as she said, “And we can fight back.”

The Doctor looked at his companion and said, “Oh yes!”

With that, the Doctor immediately took the phones and laptop apart as he worked to put them onto the TARDIS keys. Luckily, he had an extra TARDIS key in his pocket for Iris, who didn’t have one of her own.

When he finished, he quickly explained what he had done.

“Four TARDIS keys. Four pieces of the TARDIS, all with low level perception properties because the TARDIS is designed to blend in. Well, sort of. But now, the Archangel Network’s got a second low level signal. Weld the key to the network and Martha, look at me. You can see me, yes?”

And as Martha was going through this experiment, Jack whispered to Iris,

“Will this work?”

Iris remained silent and grimaced a little, unable to manage a poker face at Jack’s question. Instead, she gripped his hand tightly, desperate to keep him near her. Jack looked down at her with worry and saw her hesitate a bit before she gave him a quick peck on the lips before returning her focus back to the two time-travelers.

Jack looked back at the Doctor, tightening his own grip on Iris’ hand, needing a little bit of a reassurance that everything will be fine.

They heard the Doctor say, “…. That’s what it’s like. Come on.”

Jack looked at Martha, who looked a little upset as he whispered to her, “You too, huh?”

Iris rolled her eyes as she weakly elbowed Jack, who just helped her stand and walked slowly with her.

When they finally arrived at the airport, Iris looked extremely pale. She breathed a little heavily as they saw the interaction between the Master and President Winters. Iris winced again as she reminded herself of the President’s impending doom. She didn’t like the man herself, but she never wanted anyone to die. But in one corner of her mind, a trickle of impatience hit her like she didn’t want to hear or see any of this. It wasn’t her own emotions. She realized it was the Master’s.

A chill went down through her body as she tuned out when she felt Jack move her arm to his Vortex Manipulator before she felt herself shift and land heavily onto the floor of the engine room.

She held her scream in and groaned, trying her best to curl up into a ball when a pair of hands helped her up. She looked up to see it was Jack. He quickly hugged her as they heard Martha groan out,

“Oh, that thing is rough.”

Jack muttered out, “I’ve had worse nights. Welcome to the Valiant.”

Martha looked at Iris and Jack for a moment then blushed a bit. Iris saw that and she hissed out, “Not like that!”

Jack chuckled as he pat her head, smirking a little. Iris tried to get out of his grasp at that, but couldn’t as she was too weak to stand on her own at this point. So she just managed to glare at him instead.

Martha then whispered out, “It’s dawn? Hold on, I thought this was a ship. Where’s the sea?”

Jack shook his head as he replied,

“A ship for the 21st century. Protecting the skies of planet Earth.”

As they made their way through the engine room, the Doctor stopped and shushed everyone as he whispered,

“Can’t you hear it?”

Iris groaned and said, “Yeah… it hurts.”

Jack immediately glanced at her and looked up as he asked, “Hear what?”

Martha looked at the Doctor, antsy as she just followed. She wanted to ask about her family, but they needed to move along quickly. The less she questioned the Time Lord, the faster she could figure out the answer herself.

When they had found the TARDIS, the Doctor yelled out in joy,

“Oh, at last!”

Martha smiled and said, “Oh yes!”

Jack though, looked worriedly at how the TARDIS was emitting a dangerous red glow as he asked,

“What’s it doing on the Valiant? And what the hell’s he done to it?”

The Doctor gently put a hand to Martha, stopping her as he said, “Don’t touch it.”

Jack replied, “We’re not going to.”

Martha asked, “What’s he done though? Sounds like it’s sick. It’s also hurting Iris too…”

Iris responded, “He’s cannibalized the TARDIS.”

The Doctor looked at the TARDIS with trepidation as he said, “No, no, no.”

Jack asked Iris and the Doctor cautiously, “Is this what I think it is?”

The Doctor turned back to them as he nodded slowly and said, “It’s a paradox machine.”

The Doctor went in and immediately ran around and tapped a gauge on the metal mesh around the console as he said,

“As soon as this hits red, it activates. At this speed, it’ll trigger at two minutes past eight.”

Jack then whispered, realizing what this meant, “First contact is at eight, then two minutes later.”

Martha cut in and asked, “What’s it for? What does a paradox machine do?”

Jack added, “More importantly, can you stop it?”

Doctor shook his head as he looked at Iris, who had been silent since a while back. He saw her bit her lower lip, drawing blood as she tried to hold in her pain.

He responded as he looked up at Jack, “Not till I know what it’s doing. Touch the wrong bit, blow up the solar system.”

Martha then had a look of determination cross her face as she said, “Then we’ve got to get to the Master.”

Jack responded with, “Yeah. How are we going to stop him?”

He tightened his grip on Iris as the Doctor said,

“Oh, I’ve got a way. Sorry, didn’t I mention it?”

Jack looked down at Iris and helped her out. She remained silent as she trudged along with Jack’s help. When they all entered the flight deck quietly, he felt Iris tense up and wince almost inaudibly. He helped her lean on him as he watched the scene warily. His thumb moved in a circular motion on Iris’ arm, trying to comfort her, but it really had no effect.

Iris felt like her head was about to split in two and it took all of her willpower to prevent herself from screaming out loudly. She leaned heavily onto Jack, taking comfort in his presence. She wasn’t sure when she would be able to do this with him for a whole year, and wanted to memorize his smell, his heartbeat, his warmth. Everything about him was being engraved into her memory as she waited.

She ignored the instructions the Doctor was giving Jack, but she felt the man lower Iris to the ground so she could sit down on the ground. She wasn’t physically able to challenge the Master so she was to hide.

Then she heard the president scream in pain as the Toclafane killed him. The Doctor bolted towards the Master, but failed to reach the other Time Lord as the guards stopped him.

The Master laughed out loud as he said,

“We meet at last, Doctor. Oh, ho. I love saying that.”

The Doctor yelled out, “Stop it! Stop it now!”

The Master laughed hysterically as he managed to say,

“As if a perception filter’s going to work on me. And look, it’s the girlie, the freak and the ill one. Although, I’m not sure which one’s which.”

Jack ran forward at that, when the Master waved his hand and guards quickly grabbed Iris, who looked on with horror as the Master zapped the 51st century man with his laser screwdriver.

“No…” Iris managed as the guards brought her up by the Doctor’s side.

“Ugh!!” Iris groaned out when the guards threw her down. The Doctor tried to reach out to her, but the guards didn’t let go of him, and Iris landed hard onto the ground with a thud.

She didn’t get up, but her eyes were open and blinking as tears formed her eyes. Iris wanted to move. She knew Jack would wake up again, but she wanted to see him. Her body didn’t move from the pure exhaustion from her weakened state.

The Master flaunted his screwdriver as he said, “Laser screwdriver. Who’d have sonic? And the good thing is, he’s not dead for long. I get to kill him again!”

The Doctor took a careful glance at Iris, whose eyes were glazing over as he pleaded,

“Master, just calm down. Just look at what you’re doing. Just stop. IF you could see yourself-”

The Doctor struggled when the Master said, “Oh, do excuse me. Little bit of personal business. Back in a minute. Let him go.”

The Doctor felt the two guards let him go, and he quickly looked at the Master again as he said,

“It’s that sound. The sound in your head. What if I could help?”

He thought that maybe, just maybe, he got rid of the drumming that was in the Master’s mind, he would also help Iris get better.

But the Master merely seemed to enjoy teasing the Doctor as he said,

“Oh, how to shut him up? I know. Memory Lane. Professor Lazarus. Remember him and his genetic manipulation device? What, did you think that little Tish got that job merely by coincidence? I’ve been laying traps for you all this time. And if I can concentrate all that Lazarus technology into one little screwdriver? But, oooo, if I only had the Doctor’s biological code. Oh, wait a minute, I do!”

With that, the Master immediately opened a large metal briefcase and took out the jar with the Doctor’s hand in it.

Iris felt a flash of guilt move through her and she whispered, “I’m sorry…”

The Doctor looked at her and then back at the hand as the Master said,

“I’ve got his hand. It did take a little bit of effort, considering the girl trying to keep it away from me, but still… I have it and if Lazarus made himself younger… heh, what if I reverse it? Well.. another 100 years?”

Iris struggled to get closer to the Doctor, whimpering out a weak, “No…”

But the Master had already aimed his screwdriver at the Doctor, who convulsed quickly. Iris cried out in fear and pain. A little bit behind her, Jack came back to life as Martha was right by him.

Jack looked up at Martha and handed him his Vortex Manipulator and the communicator Iris made to Martha. He whispered,

“Teleport.”

Martha took the things and tears sprung into her eyes as she looked at Iris and the Doctor, as she answered,

“I can’t.”

She honestly didn’t want to abandon them. Iris looked like she could die at any moment and the Doctor was aging right in front of her eyes. Whatever she was tasked with, she didn’t want to do it by leaving them here to the Master’s whims. But Jack grabbed her attention again as he adamantly said,

“We can’t stop him. Get out of here. Get out. If anything, only in the worst case scenario, contact my team with the communicator.”

Martha nodded, almost unnoticeably. Jack eased up a little and let Martha go to the Doctor. She grabbed the man who looked much older.

“Doctor? I’ve got you.”

The Master looked at the group as he chuckled and said,

“Ah, she’s a would be doctor. But tonight, Martha Jones, we’ve flown them in all the way from prison.”

Iris looked up to see Martha’s family being dragged into the deck. She rested her head onto the ground again, before feeling two strong hands pull her body up into the person’s chest. She immediately recognized Jack’s scent and relaxed, even for a little bit, to remain as close to him as long as she could.

Then she heard the Doctor ask tiredly,

“The Toclafane. What are they? Who are they?”

The Master looked at Iris, who immediately winced upon making eye contact with him. Tears slid down her cheeks as the Master said,

“I think the young Iris over there can explain that to you.”

Everyone immediately jerked their heads up towards the Master in shock as he laughed maniacally as he continued,

“What? Did you honestly think that I wouldn’t feel anything when we are bonded? Iris… my flower, you feared me from the start, and considering that you never met me… that fear means you know me through other means. And the thing is… your thoughts on the Toclafane. Whenever you look at my creatures, I feel what you feel: guilt, sorrow, regret. All those… mushy feelings. I never told anyone, so imagine my surprise when you let a little information slip through as you told the Doctor a little something?”

Iris’ eyes widened as she felt her blood turn cold. He couldn’t know. She chanted that thought repeatedly, feeling Jack’s grip on her tighten, indicating that he was thinking the same thing. The Doctor’s eyes widened, hoping that the Master was thinking something else rather than the discussion he had with Iris earlier in the abandoned warehouse. How could he have not realized that the bond would work both ways?

“But then again, I won’t reveal anything about the Toclafane in front of the Doctor. Because Doctor, if I told you the truth, your hearts would break. Just like it broke Iris’ already torn heart.”

Iris flinched at how he kept returning his attention to her. She felt the little smugness the Master felt as he taunted all of them. Iris didn’t pay attention to the whatever was going on around her as she suddenly felt a pressure of the drumming escalate even further.

Jack immediately noticed Iris growing limp and he held onto her, hugging her so that nobody would notice that she had gone unconscious. He tucked a bit of hair behind her ear and hugged her tightly. The Toclafane had broken through the tear in the sky and saw how the Master smiled widely as he said,

“Shall we decimate them? That sounds good. A nice word, decimate. Remove one tenth of the population!”

Jack did not dare to move much as he saw the Doctor whisper to Martha and saw her teleport herself outside of the Valiant like they had wanted her to. The only thing he could was for everybody to survive this. Iris believed that they would all survive this, but he saw Iris’ condition and hoped that she also believed that she too, would live through the fight against the Master.

He had lost her once, he was not about to lose her again. Even if that meant he had to go through severe torture.

Then the Doctor was dragged by the Master, who held onto the now old-looking Time Lord by the window to witness the slaughter of one-tenth of the world’s population as the Master said,

“And so it came to pass that he human race fell, and the Earth was no more. And I looked down upon my new dominion as Master of all, and I thought it good.”

Chapter Text

Iris slowly woke up, finding herself lying down on something comfortable. She looked around herself to find herself in something that looked like a hospital room. She put her head back down onto the pillow she had and groaned, not sure how the pain in her head had subsided.

The pain itself was still there, it just had dulled down to a soft thudding in her head. She didn't want to complain about how it had died down so much. Iris found that she was connected to a medical machinery, that seemed to have been set up to check on her health status all the time.

And as she was trying to settle into figuring out how she had been put there, the door to her room opened and the Master stepped in. Iris immediately tensed up, expecting the beat of four to escalate painfully. But she didn't move more when she realized that though it did get a little painful at first, the closer the Master got to her, the less the pain got.

"Hello, my flower, you're finally awake."

The Master sat in the chair that was right by her bed as she asked,

"What happened to me? What did you do?"

She eyed him warily, not sure how her pain had lessened so much. She distinctly remembered coughing up blood and thinking that she was almost about to die. And then she woke up to find herself feeling so much better.

"Don't you remember?" The Master asked lightheartedly.

Iris immediately frowned and shook her head, not sure what to expect, when he said,

"We formed a more… mutually consenting bond."

Iris' eyes widened. She didn't remember consenting to forming a stronger bond, and as her mind was whirling from the confusion that the Master had caused, he continued as if he heard what she was thinking.

"Ah, you might not remember. Considering that you had already been unconscious and I did enter your mind to see what it was like in your brain. Well, I was curious about what you knew about this universe, to only find it very disorientating. So, I decided to see what would happen if we formed a stronger bond. Of course, I wasn't sure if you would consent, but it seemed to have a better effect on you more than I."

Iris was about to ask him what he meant when he continued,

"You got better. The drumming noise hurts you less now."

Iris flinched and she asked,

"How do you know what I want to know without me asking?"

The Master looked at his fingernails a little and then looked back up at her, smiling and said,

"Because that was part of the bond that we formed, my little flower. We have a mental link. Whatever you think, I know. Whatever I think, you will know."

Iris frowned and said, "How long has it been since I was unconscious?"

The Master immediately lost all hints of happiness as he muttered,

"About an year."

This caused Iris' mind to go into overload again as multiple thoughts came up to her. Then she felt a tug in her thoughts, that caused her to jump. She immediately looked at the Master, who grabbed her chin gently and looked at her intensely as he slowly, and menacingly said,

"I'm not exactly pleased that all you knowledge has seemed to deadlocked itself so that nobody else can see it even if you think about it, but please do remember that I'm trying my best not to hurt you as I think you may be useful to me."

Iris swallowed a bit of saliva, not sure how to respond. He was being so overly nice to her that it confused her. This man, who was not supposed to kind to anyone, was doing what was probably not what the Time Lord enjoyed.

The Master sighed, catching onto what Iris was thinking as he said,

"The bond is an… intimate thing. Especially with Time Lords. It's… well…"

Iris looked at the Master in shock as she saw a hint of red in the Master's ear. She felt heat flow up to her face quickly as she realized that he must have been implying that for Time Lords, this meant more than any form of relationship.

An awkward silence ensued, and the Master seemed to have finally gotten so bored that he left the room.

Once the Time Lord left the room, she determined that it was a relief that the Master couldn't access the information from the show, but it also made her confused. Why had her mind done that? She had zero control over what went in her mind, so the information should have been easily readable for any Time Lord to see. Unless something else had set it there.

And the only person she knew was most likely able to do that was Rassilon. She had heard his voice when she had died momentarily with the gauntlet that Suzie had used. It wouldn't be too surprising that he had access to her mind.

But how? How did he have that access? She tried wracking her brain about anything that could be a logical explanation for this assumption, but nothing popped up. Sighing in frustration, she lied back down in her bed, knowing that she was not allowed to go out of the room. With that, she let sleep take over her body.

In the brig in the meantime, Jack was chained to posts. He wasn't feeling that cheerful when he saw Tish come up to him. It had been about an year since Iris had fallen unconscious and taken from him. Since then, the Master had tried to get information from him, but didn't succeed, so the Time Lord had resorted to killing him from time to time when he got frustrated.

Occasionally, the Master let Jack see Iris. Although he only got to see her three times the entire year, he knew that at least she was alive. The Master didn't let her die, but kept her alive for whatever reason.

Tish finally stopped in front of him as he said,

"Morning, Tish. Ah, smell that sea air. Makes me long for good old British fish and chips. Yeah. What do I get? Cold mashed swede. Some hotel. Last time I book over the Internet."

He honestly didn't really feel like talking to Tish, but the small chat he had with anyone helped keep him sane. He saw Tish put three fingers on the container and Jack winked, letting Martha's sister know that he received the signal.

Iris woke up with a panic when she heard the alarms ring around the Valiant. She immediately stood up to her best abilities, holding onto the wall as she walked out of her room. Breathing heavily, her shaky legs took her to follow the guards. She finally stopped when she found herself in the flight deck once again. She saw with horror as the aged Doctor tried to kill the Master with the laser screwdriver.

The Master saw her at the doorway and smirked as he took the screwdriver from the Doctor's hands. While doing this, he said,

"Isomorphic controls. Which means they only work for me. Like this."

A laser beam shot out and almost hit Francine, Martha's mother. Iris quickly stepped further into the room, grasping at the walls as she whispered,

"Please, stop."

The Master looked up at her with a glint in his eyes as if they were saying, "watch me."

She slowly went to help the Doctor as the Master yelled at Francine. The Doctor looked at Iris with an expression that she could only label as shock.

For an year, the Doctor hadn't seen Iris since she had been dragged away by the Master. Back then, she looked like she was about to die. Now, though she still looked ill, she had regained her color back. Knowing the Master, he wasn't sure what to expect. But the hug Iris was giving him was so comfortable that he leaned in. He hadn't had comfortable and warm embraces in a while, and Iris let him feel at ease.

The Time Lord and Iris immediately heard the Master come near them as he said,

"Didn't you learn anything form the blessed Saint Martha? Siding with the Doctor is a very dangerous thing to do. Take them away."

Both of them saw Francine and Tish get escorted by the guards to somewhere else on the ship. The Master turned around to face Iris as he said,

"It's finally nice to see you out of your room, my flower. Though, I do distinctly remember that I told you not to leave your room."

Iris looked up at him, feeling how he was enjoying this scenario. She shook her head as she whispered,

"Then why do you enjoy it?"

The Master raised one eyebrow in amusement as he asked, "Can you sense my thoughts now?"

The Doctor tensed as he looked at Iris, who lowered her eyes as she nodded warily. He grasped her hand, not sure what to do for her. A bond between Time Lords was something so intimate, that it was only saved for special scenarios. Not even he had bonded with anyone, not even his wife back at Gallifrey. So to hear that the Master and Iris had a bond was something that had been surprising for him.

But if Iris was able to connect herself to the Master's thoughts as the Master did to Iris, he realized that he was about to do something foolish. He berated himself as the Master continued to say,

"Well, if that's the case, I'm excited to say that you will be about to witness a spectacular show."

Iris shook her head, as she pleaded, "No, please don't!"

The Master just shook his head as he helped Iris sit on a comfortable chair while the Doctor was seated in a wheel chair.

"The thing is, my little flower. Despite the adoration you have for your Doctor and your love for Jack, you cannot stop me from succeeding in my revenge. I mean, look at the Doctor now, he is a grandpa. Do you know, I remember the days when the Doctor, oh, that famous Doctor, was waging a Time War, battling Sea Devils and Axons. He sealed the rift at the Medusa Cascade single-handed. And look at him now. Stealing screwdrivers. How did he ever come to this? Oh yea, me."

The Doctor struggled against the hand the Master had put on his shoulder as he muttered,

"I just need you to listen."

The Master then walked away a little towards the camera as he said,

"No, it's my turn. Revenge! Best served hot. And this time, it's a message for Miss Jones."

The Doctor looked in horror towards Iris, who struggled against the guard who was holding her down. She had guilt cloud her features as she shook her head and pleaded silently to the Master to stop. The Doctor genuinely wished that Iris didn't feel whatever guilt she had for things taking place, but he could see how it has been eating her up inside.

They could both only look in horror as the Master then started to say,

"My people. Salutations on this, the eve of war. Lovely woman. But I know there's all sorts of whispers down there. Stories of a child, walking the Earth, giving you hope. But I ask you. How much hope has this man got? Say hello, Gandalf. Except he's not that old, but he's an alien with a much greater lifespan than you stunted little apes. But what if it showed?"

Iris yelled out, "No!"

The Master ignored her as he continued with,

"What if I suspend your capacity to regenerate? All 900 years of your life, Doctor. What if we could see them?"

Iris struggled in her chair as she saw the Master zap the Doctor with his screwdriver, causing the Doctor to convulse as he became smaller and smaller. This caused Iris' tears to fall down her face. This was much more horrifying to watch than on a television screen. Not only that, she had met the Doctor in-person and built a friendship with him in such a short time, that watching him become a small person was too much for her.

The Master's taunting played in her mind over and over again as the Doctor 's tiny form peered out from the clothing. The big eyes met Iris' and Iris couldn't help but look at him with so many emotions flashing through her. Guilt, sorrow, hopelessness. More went through her, but the Master immediately ended the recording and headed over to Iris, whispering,

"My flower… my beautiful Iris, look at him. So helpless, so weak. Is this really the man you can continue to fight for?"

Iris shivered as the Master gently grabbed her chin to make her turn her face towards him. She couldn't look away at the intensity that shown in the Master's eyes. All she could think was,

"He's my friend."

The Master must have not heard the thought because Iris felt his thumb clean away her tears from her cheeks and look at her again. This time though, Iris held her breath, realizing just how the Master was to her. She saw how his eyes flickered down to her lips and she froze, not sure how to react. Something in her mind caused her to shiver in excitement just a little bit. There was a tug, a thought of temptation as the Master was only centimeters away from her. But she resisted.

The two stood there for what felt like hours until the Master finally let her go and stood back. His expression was unreadable, and Iris released a little breath of relief. She wasn't sure what she felt, but per the Master's orders, a guard took her back to her room. She was not to leave the room until she was called for. Iris risked a glance at the Doctor's caged form, and went back to her room.

She stepped back into her room. Iris sat down on her bed and thought back on what had just transpired. She had wanted to kiss the Master! Even if it was a very small part of her, the idea that she even wanted to started to confuse her.

The Master had caused her grievances, but she wasn't sure if it was because of the bond, but she longed for Ianto and Jack more than ever. Before she had died from Bilis' hands, she had admitted her feelings to Jack. But she couldn't deny that when she had been deathly ill before coming to the Valiant, she frequently longed for Ianto's comfort. While Jack was passionate and caring, Ianto was warm and loving.

Iris had wanted to distinguish the feelings she had for the two men, but her mind was so overloaded with pain that she wasn't sure what she was going through. Her heart ached and she wished that she had the strength to fight against the Master. But the bond prevented that. If anything, she felt that much closer to the Master. Caused her to feel empathy and more of an understanding as to why he fought against the Doctor so much.

After a while, she decided that this was too much for her, so she lie down to sleep and rest.

Down on the ground, Martha and a man called Tom knocked on a door, making sure nobody saw them.

Tom said, "Let me in. It's Milligan."

The door the slave quarters opened up to show a woman, who whispered,

"Did you bring food?"

Tom shook his head, looking sullen as he responded with, "Couldn't get any, and I'm starving."

The woman looked at him sadly as she said, "All we've got is water."

Martha looked at the woman and apologized, and heard Tom say,

"It's cheaper than building barracks. Pack them in, a 100 in each house, ferry them off to the shipyards every morning."

Suddenly, Martha and Tom heard a man call out in a Welsh accent,

"Martha Jones? Is that you?"

Martha looked over to the man, who looked relatively tall in jeans and a leather jacket. He looked exhausted, but the gleam in his blue eyes looked fairly similar to a description a friend of hers described before they were separated.

"Ianto Jones?" She asked cautiously.

Ianto smiled widely and nodded as he said, "It's finally nice to meet you."

"What are you doing all the way here? You were supposed to be at the Hub?!" Martha said, worried.

Ianto nodded and responded with, "I know. But knowing that Iris and Jack was trapped with the Master, I needed to come here. They need as much help they can get. The others are at the Hub."

Martha finally smiled and hugged him a little when a boy asked,

"Are you really Martha Jones?"

Martha and Ianto looked down, as she said, "Yeah, that's me."

The boy looked excited as he asked,

"Can you do it? Can you kill him? They said you can kill the Master, can you? Tell us you can do it. Please, tell us you can do it."

The woman who had opened the door for them added,

"Who is the Master?"

The people surrounding them began to all ask questions of their own as they let their curiosity get the better of them. Tom, who was clearly extremely exhausted, said,

"Come on, just leave her alone. She's exhausted."

Martha smiled a little as she said, "No, it's all right. They want me to talk, and I will."

Ianto also listened in, intrigued about what Martha was about to say. Iris said that Martha would tell the world about her journey and their plan, but the woman really did tell a nice story.

"I travelled across the world, from the ruins of New York to fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went, I saw people just like you, living as slaves. But if Martha Jones became a legend, then that's wrong, because my name isn't important. There's someone else. The man who sent me out there. The man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is the Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times, and you never even know he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I've seen him. I know him. I love him. And I know what he can do."

Then a woman came running over to Martha and Ianto, looking at both of them as she said,

"It's him! It's him! Oh my God, it's him! It's the Master. He's here."

Iris woke up when she felt a strong tug, almost like a wake-up call hit her. She then saw a vision of sorts as she saw what the Master was seeing. She froze. Tom was on the ground, dead, while Martha stood with a familiar looking man. Ianto. Ianto was there with Martha Jones.

Without thinking much, she pleaded the Master to spare Ianto. At first, the Master seemed displeased that she was so emotional towards the Welsh man, but agreed, making sure to take Ianto and Martha back to the Valiant with him.

Iris immediately tried to brush her hair a little bit with her hands, frustrated with how things turned out. Why was Ianto there? She had specifically told him not to leave the Hub. But soon enough, guards came to her room to tell her that she was to go to the flight deck. She nodded and walked over.

When she arrived, she made immediate eye contact with Ianto, who smiled at her widely. That stupid idiot! She was absolutely angry now. Why did he risk his life to come here? He was supposed to be back at the Hub and not remember any of the events that took place. But she didn't have much time to think as she was seated in a chair with a guard standing by her.

Then Jack was brought in, causing him to look at Ianto with surprise of his own. Iris heard him whisper out,

"Ianto?"

With that, Ianto smiled at the captain, causing the 51st century man to look just as angry as Iris must have appeared just a minute ago. But the joy of reunion was short as the Master started to say,

"Citizens of Earth, rejoice and observe."

Martha was brought in with her family, and the Master held out his hand as he said,

"Your teleport device, in case you thought I'd forgotten."

Martha threw the Vortex Manipulator on the ground, clearly not happy. But the Master just continued to smile as he said,

"And now, kneel. Down below, the fleet is ready to launch. 200,000 ships set to burn across the universe. Are we ready?"

A man's voice came over as he reported, "The fleet awaits your signal. Rejoice!"

The Master chuckled darkly as he said,

"Three minutes to align the black hold converters. Counting down. I never could resist a ticking clock. My children, are you ready?"

The Toclafane said, "WE will fly and blaze and slice. We will fly and blaze and slice."

Iris trembled in fear as the Mater continued to say in excitement,

"At zero, to mark this day, the child Martha Jones, will die. My first blood. Any last words? No? Such a disappointment, this one. Days of old, Doctor, you had companions who could absorb the time vortex. This one's useless. Bow your head. And so it falls to me, as Master of all, to establish from this day, a new order of Time Lords. From this day forward-"

Then the ship rang out with Martha's laughter. The Master immediately frowned and Iris felt a wave of annoyance flow within her. She shifted, trying to ignore the annoyance as the Master bit out,

"What. What's so funny?"

Martha merely chuckled as she said, "A gun."

The Master, clearly not liking not knowing what was happening, asked, "What about it?"

Martha muttered out "A gun in four parts?"

The Master still didn't understand why Martha was taunting him as he said, "Yes, and I destroyed it."

Martha rolled her eyes as she said, "A gun in four parts scattered across the world? I mean, come on, did you really believe that?"

The Master frowned even more, if that was possible. The Master looked at her momentarily as he asked warily,

"What do you mean?"

The Doctor then gained the strength to speak as he said, "As if I would ask her to kill."

The Master then rolled his eyes as he tried to gloat his victory, "Oh well, it doesn't matter. I've got her exactly where I want her."

Martha then spoke up again as she said, "But I knew what Professor Docherty would do. The Resistance knew about her son. I told her about the gun, so she'd get me here at the right time."

The Master stayed quiet for a bit before smiling as he said, "Oh, but you're still going to die."

But as the conversation continued, Iris felt a tug and she winced. She shifted a little, not sure why she was feeling so anxious, and worried? But it wasn't for anyone around her, but for the Time Lord in a black suit.

She focused back to the conversation and heard Jack say, "the Archangel Network."

Martha continued with, "A telepathic field binding the whole human race together, with all of them, every single person of Earth, thinking the same thing at the same time. And that word is Doctor."

Iris felt panic arise in her own mind and her throat clenched in fear, but she managed to whisper out the name, "Doctor" multiple times.

But at the same time, she felt the hold the Master had on her weaken ever so slightly as the signal from the Archangel Network weakened. She saw with awe at how the Doctor returned to his younger, looking-self. It honestly surprised her how it amazed her to see it all in-person than horrible CG.

Iris immediately felt a pair of hands on her shoulder and she jumped, still having the Master's fear rampaging her mind. She immediately looked up to find Ianto looking at her, smiling warmly. How could he smile so warmly to her? Despite everything that he must have suffered through the year? She leaned into his touch, loving how it comforted her.

She honestly wished that she could help, but Ianto made her sit, stating that she wasn't well enough to move around much. She complied in a small amount of annoyance, trying to focus on muting the wide spectrum of emotions she currently felt. Jack pecked her cheek before heading back to the TARDIS to fix the paradox machine. Martha reunited with her family.

Then Iris felt a thought click in her mind and yelled, "Doctor! The Master-"

The Doctor immediately looked over at what the other Time Lord was doing and yelled, "No!" and was transported out of the Valiant via the Vortex Manipulator.

Iris relaxed immediately, realizing just how tense she felt. Ianto knelt in front of her and said,

"Hello again."

Iris wasn't sure what to say, but managed to whisper out, "H…Hey"

Their eyes met and they looked at each, relieved that most of the action was over. Then Iris smiled and hugged him as tightly as she could. Ianto still smelled like coffee, which made her smile into his shoulder. She continued to stay there, finding relief in the hug, and Ianto gently ran his fingers in her hair.

He was surprised how thin and pale Iris looked. But he was honestly happy that she was safe and alive compared to everything. Despite having read from Iris' letter to remain in the Hub, he didn't want to remain helpless when he knew what he and the team could do to help. That was why Torchwood immediately was part of the intelligence base of the Resistance in Cardiff, remaining hidden from Saxon.

Once Martha had gotten out of the Valiant, they contacted each other to make sure that Martha and the team remained safe and carried out the plan Iris had provided for them.

Iris pulled away first, when suddenly the Doctor and the Master reappeared on the flight deck of the Valiant. The Doctor quickly yelled,

"Everyone get down! Time is reversing!"

Ianto immediately grabbed Iris and put his body around her, protecting her from any debris that flew around the room. When time returned to a year before, the Doctor said,

"The paradox is broken. We've reverted back, one year and one day. Two minutes past eight in the morning."

They all hear a man on the communicator say, "This is UNIT Central. What's happened up there? We just saw the President assassinated."

Iris let out a shaky breath, feeling terrified, despite knowing that she was now safe. She looked up to hear Francine shakily say,

"But I can remember it."

Iris felt guilt, but her eyes focused on the Master, who was crawling away from the Doctor, trying to stealthily escape. But as the Master immediately bolted for the door, Jack came in, stopping him from escaping. Jack grabbed him as he said,

"Whoa, big fell! You don't want to miss the party. Cuffs. So, what do we do with this one?"

He handcuffed the Master, and Iris stood up with the help of Ianto. Jack glanced at Iris, smiling tiredly. Iris smiled back, but it didn't reach her eyes. She had a weird feeling crawling beneath her stomach and she warily looked around when Francine said,

"Oh, I think so. Because all those things, they still happened because of him. I saw them."

Iris nudged Ianto a little towards Francine, eyeing him a signal to remove the gun from Francine. Ianto nodded and went towards the woman, saying,

"Francine, here, give me the gun."

The Doctor joined as he said, "Francine, you're better than him."

Francine lowered the gun and Ianto immediately put it on the ground. Iris frowned, but the fear and paranoia was eating at her.

The Master then asked, "You still haven't answered the question. What happened to me?"

The Doctor looked back at the other Time Lord and said, "You're my responsibility from now on. The only Time Lord left in existence."

Iris flinched a little at that, knowing how he really wasn't alone. She really wished that he could know, but he wasn't supposed to. At least… not now. But Jack eyed the Master warily as he said,

"Yeah, but you can't trust him."

Iris scoffed a little, causing everyone to look at her strangely. How that was strange considering just how the two Time Lords were going to interact with each other in the future. There was another tug in her mind and she quickly looked at the Master, thinking that he had said something to her, but she didn't quite catch it. Her mind was brought to reality when a loud gunshot rang in the room.

Iris quickly looked up at Lucy, who had shot the Master. The Master staggered into the Doctor's arms, paling considerably. Iris felt shock rack through her body as she saw this happen. Ianto immediately grabbed the gun from Lucy while the Doctor said,

"There you go. I've got you. I've got you."

The Master glanced at Lucy with surprise and amusement as he said, "Always the women."

But Iris also felt the tug of the bond she had with the Master and noticed how he also thought of her. But nobody noticed Iris wince while the Doctor said,

"I didn't see her."

The Master said, "Dying in your arms. Happy now?"

The Doctor didn't want to accept it, denying with, "You're not dying. Don't be stupid. It's only a bullet. Just regenerate."

The Master glanced at Iris, then back at the Doctor and smirked as he whispered vehemently, "No."

The Doctor, however, didn't see that the Master had looked at Iris in his devastation as he shook his former friend and pleaded,

"One little bullet. Come on."

The Master smiled even wider, seeing just how devastated the Doctor was at the idea of his death and chuckled as he said, "I guess you don't know me so well. I refuse."

The Doctor heard a gasp and then looked up to see Jack grab Iris, whose legs gave out.

Iris felt shock, then pain, then her legs gave out underneath her. She felt two hands grab onto her to soften her fall.

"Iris?!" Jack yelled as he caught her.

Iris' face paled considerably as she struggled to breathe, feeling something press into her stomach, just like the bullet embedded in the Master's stomach. She looked at Jack, fear finally kicking in as she whimpered.

"Jack…" She whispered.

Then she saw Ianto come up towards her, screaming, "No! No this can't be happening! Not again!"

Iris looked up to see Jack freely crying, begging to her, "Please, hold on…You will be fine. Just-just wait a bit."

Iris smiled a little, feeling comfortable in Jack's grasp and all noises started to dim as she struggled to hold on like Jack asked. But she started to feel the cold start to settle in and she felt disorientated. She looked around, trying to focus her eyes on the now, blurry vision of Jack. As she tried to do so, she felt a tear slide down her cheek and tried to say goodbye, but couldn't gather the energy to talk. She wheezed as she breathed in and out the best she could. But the pain was becoming too much to bear. Her vision began to fade and then the world turned black.

Jack shook Iris, who had closed her eyes for the last time.

"Iris?! Iris, you have to stay awake! Please…don't leave me! Wake up!"

Jack hugged Iris tighter, feeling how she was limp. It couldn't be happening. She had come back to him just a year ago, and this happened again.

Ianto felt his own tears fall and he went to the Doctor, asking him,

"Please… save her."

The Doctor looked up from crying over the Master's death and then finally seemed to realize what happened. He had a look of shock come across his face as he quickly, but gently set the Master down and went towards Iris.

He took Iris from Jack, trying to see if she had a heartbeat. Fortunately, her heart was still weakly beating. The bond was killing her. The only way for him to be able to save her was to bond with her, therefore breaking the bond she had with the Master. The Doctor looked up to see Jack, who was looking desperate and quickly said,

"Jack, listen to me very carefully."

Jack nodded and the Doctor started,

"I have to break the bond she has with the Master, but in order to do that, I have to bond with her."

Jack then interrupted urgently, "Then what are you waiting for?"

The Doctor shook his head, feeling exhaustion and sadness hit him as he said,

"Because it's an act of intimacy for Time Lords."

Jack froze and his eyes hardened as he thought over this, clearly understanding what the Time Lord was implying. Not a second had passed as he said,

"Do it, Doctor. Save her."

The Doctor breathed in hesitantly and then put fingers on Iris' temples. He quickly went into her mind to find it something akin to a maelstrom. Not organized, but floating with various thoughts, flashes, emotions that were about to throw him out. He pushed through, trying to find her amidst the harsh and almost deathly condition of her mind. He sifted through the dark memories and thoughts of Iris. He ignored the doors that looked like they were deadlocked, for they were metallic and looked like spaceship doors compared to those that had broken down, which were wooden.

He saw a dark center, and within that gray and black area, he found Iris, sitting down, holding her knees.

"Iris?" He whispered, finally relieved to have found her.

His hearts stopped beating for a second when Iris looked up, not recognizing him. He quickly said,

"I'm the Doctor. I'm here to save you."

"The Doctor?" She whispered out in fear and curiosity.

Her eyes penetrated him, almost reaching into his mind, and he quickly said,

"Jack's waiting for you, please, you have to follow what I say."

At that, Iris cringed and tried to hide her face from the Doctor. He noticed how heavy his hearts felt. It was as if Iris felt the very same exhaustion and weight of the world like he did after the Time War. He quickly knelt by her and with his hands, cupped her cheek. He lifted her head to make her face him, and he said,

"We don't have much time. You're dying. We have to form a bond."

Iris looked at him, still seeming like she wasn't able to recognize him, but she stayed quiet. After about a minute, she asked,

"Will I be alive then?"

The Doctor nodded, and for a moment, he thought Iris would refuse him and prevent the bond from breaking with the Master, but she nodded.

He quickly explained to her that he was in her mind and that she had to fully accept his ability to enter her mind whenever and wherever.

Iris felt scared at the man who claimed to be saving her, and the bond sounded scary. However, a corner of her heart didn't want to give up, and she decided to follow the instructions the man was giving her.

She did everything that he said to do, and then, her body felt incredibly lighter and the threatening beat of four stopped. The world around her was finally quiet. Then, she felt a warmth flow through her body, making her comfortable.

The Doctor felt Iris enter his mind, cautiously looking for any hints that he was a threat to her. But she explored his good memories and bad memories that he showed her. She laughed like a child at some of the antics and silly things he had done in the past. Then she surprised him and his hearts clenched in an unrecognizable emotion when she seemed to embrace and comfort him when the information regarding the Time War accidentally played out. She had stretched her hand out to the memories and then smiled warmly, her lips pulling up gently. He felt a rush of warmth settle into him, and then, the bond formed, a blinding light waking him up from the connection.

He opened his eyes and then looked at the limp form of Iris beneath him. He checked for her pulse, which got stronger and her eyes flittered. Iris drew in a breath and then, opened her eyes, which focused to the light from the ship. The Doctor looked at Iris, not sure if she remembered everything that happened, when Iris pulled her hand up to the Doctor's face, cupping his cheek with that hand.

They shared that moment, until Iris' hand fell down and she turned her head to see Jack who was watching the two warily. Then a tear fell down Iris' eyes as she whispered,

"Jack… Ianto…"

The two Torchwood agents let out a huge breath of relief and looked as if they wanted to hug her. A flash of protectiveness went through the Doctor, but he handed Iris to Jack, who embraced her in a tight hug. Ianto joined in, who realized that the nightmare of an year never happened and that they were all alive.

The Doctor watched the girl he just bonded with, shoving down the emotions raging through him as he looked back down at the Master's corpse. As if sensing his sadness, Iris let the men go and looked back at the Doctor, and then grabbed Jack's and Ianto's hands in each of hers, silently mourning along with the Doctor.

Eventually, the Valiant went back down to Earth, and Martha's family was sent back home with the assistance of UNIT while Jack, Ianto, Martha and Iris remained with the Doctor.

Everybody was tired and slept on the TARDIS. Ianto had unable to close his mouth when he had first entered the TARDIS. But noticing how the recent events were weighing heavily on everybody, he admired the ship before heading to rest himself. Iris was still dazed with the fact that she survived and remembered forming the bond with the Doctor, that she couldn't sleep. She walked to the console room, silently saying,

"Hi… I… I'm so glad to finally meet you."

The TARDIS hummed a little, as if saying hello back at her. The Doctor had parked the TARDIS to do a funeral for the Master. She sat down in the chair in the console room, waiting for the Doctor. When he finally came in, he shrugged out of his trench coat, upset, when he noticed Iris sitting down in the chair.

"Iris? What are you doing instead of resting?"

Iris looked up, and her eyes bore into the Doctor's as she said,

"I couldn't sleep… and… I wanted to say thank you for saving me."

The Doctor looked at her as he said, "You're welcome."

Iris stayed silent a while, letting the Doctor drive the TARDIS. She silently went up to him when he parked the TARDIS somewhere, and hugged him from behind. The Doctor froze as he felt Iris' arms around his waist. Normally, he would initiate the hugs and not many people hugged him from behind like this. He would have dropped her arms, but he liked the feeling of Iris' arms. It felt nice. He could feel from the bond he had with her that she was trying to comfort him. And unlike anybody else, he let himself relish in the way she was doing it. When they had bonded, Iris' own memories slipped a little, only to indicate that she knew of the Time War. How it scarred him ever since.

Nobody else knew now, and having someone to help him through it, even if it was through this small hug, meant the world to him.

But alas, Iris pulled away from the Doctor and smiled when he turned towards her. They looked at each other for a while when the Doctor said,

"You don't hear the drumming anymore."

It was supposed to be a question, but it sounded more like a statement. Like he knew the answer already. Iris nodded, assuring him that it really was gone.

"Yup."

With that Iris beamed, as if the weight of the world was lifted from her shoulders. He smiled a little, glad to see Iris smile so brightly. They stood like that for a while when Ianto came in with Jack and Martha. They had slept for a long time and were ready to head back to Earth.

The Doctor smiled a bit more as he said, "Well, we've arrived at Cardiff."

Jack hugged Iris, who hugged him back enthusiastically, and pecked him on the cheek. He wrapped an arm around her waist as he led both of them out. Ianto followed suit and gazed at the TARDIS in awe.

Eventually, Martha and the Doctor stepped outside and leaned on the railing. They all shared a look before Martha said,

"Time was, every single one of these people knew your name. Now, they've all forgotten you."

The Doctor had a glazed look for a split second before saying, "Good."

Jack then pat Ianto in the back as he said, "Back to work."

Ianto chuckled a little, and saw that the four people needed a moment to themselves and shook hands with Martha and the Doctor.

While shaking hands, the Doctor said,

"Ianto, it has been an honor to meet you in person. Good luck working with Jack."

Ianto smiled and said, "Thank you Doctor. Good day."

With that, Ianto headed for the Hub.

The Doctor then turned to Jack and Iris, saying,

"If you want, you guys can come with me. I really don't mind."

Jack smiled a little and said, "I had plenty of time to think that past year, the year that never was, and I kept thinking about that team of mine. Like you said, Doctor, responsibility."

The Doctor smiled as he responded with, "Defending the Earth. Can't argue with that. Although…"

With that, the Doctor grabbed the vortex manipulator on the 51st century man's wrist and sonicked it, continuing,

"I can't have you walking around with a time travelling teleport. You could go anywhere, twice. The second time to apologize."

Iris and Martha watched two men interact. Jack looked at Iris, then back to the Doctor as he asked,

"And what about me? Can you fix that? Will I ever be able to die?"

The Doctor shook his head, feeling Iris get a little saddened at this information as he responded, "Nothing I can do. You're an impossible thing Jack."

Jack smiled as he joked, "Been called that before."

The Doctor then looked at Iris, who still had Jack hold her, not letting her go, as he asked,

"And what about you Iris? You're welcome to join us and travel."

Iris looked up with a sparkle in her eye, clearly indicating that she did want to go. But she held herself back, he could feel it in their bond. Iris felt the little hope that the Doctor had, waiting for her reply. She blushed a little, and looked up at Jack.

The captain was clearly letting her choose. She thought about it quickly and asked,

"Would it be alright for you to pick me up from time to time? The team also needs me, but I want to travel with you too. If that's too much-"

The Doctor immediately smiled brightly as he cut her off by saying, "That will work fine!"

Iris thought about it for a while and then dug around in her pocket and then pulled her phone out, tossing it to the Doctor, and said,

"Here, take it. When you arrive, just shoot a message to Jack or something We will text you the new phone number I get, if you want to contact me instead."

The Doctor caught her phone, which she had managed to find and nodded. Iris then looked at Martha, and quickly hugged her tightly. Martha laughed as she said,

"I'm glad to have met you Iris. I wish we got to know each other more."

Iris smiled as she said while pulling back, "Don't worry. We'll see more of each other in the future."

Martha looked at her, intrigued when Jack coughed a little and Iris pranced back to him, clearly overjoyed that the Doctor invited her.

Iris hugged the Doctor again, feeling his arms wrap around her back as they embraced warmly. The presence that each other felt from the other let in a sense of comfort for both of them, a result of the two-way bond.

Jack then pulled her back, smiling to see how happy Iris was and then decided to ask,

"But I keep wondering. What about aging? Because I can't die but I keep getting older. The odd little grey hair, you know? What happens if I live for a million years?"

The Doctor shook his head and said, "I really don't know."

Iris tried to hold back her giggle as Jack said,

"Ok, vanity. Sorry, yeah… can't help it. Used to be a poster boy when I was a kid living in the Boeshane Peninsula. Tiny little place. I was the first one ever to be signed up for the Time Agency. They were so proud of me. The Face of Boe, they called me. Hmm… I'll see you. Iris, I'll be in my office."

Iris nodded back at him, watching his figure retreat a little towards the Hub, when Iris looked back at the Doctor and Martha, only to see their flabbergasted faces. The Doctor looked down at her, seeing how she smirked and winked at him as he said,

"No!"

Martha laughed, as she had noticed Iris wink as she said, "It can't be."

The Doctor shook his head in wonder as he said, "No, definitely not. No, no."

Iris laughed a little, making the Doctor smile more and waved at the duo, saying,

"Oh, and Doctor, try looking up Adipose Industry. I have been monitoring it, but seems interesting. Try checking in on it!"

The Doctor looked at her, baffled, but smiled and waved back and said, "Until next time!"

Iris smiled and ran back to the tourist center, excited to see her friends again. When she entered, she realized Jack and Ianto were talking. She smiled, seeing how friendly the two men were.

"Jack, Ianto." She called out to them.

The two men looked up and smiled warmly at her, approaching her desk. She then continued with,

"Well, since we survived the year an rested up, how about we go find our team?"

Jack and Ianto glanced at each other, then smiled widely as they all got ready to reintroduce themselves back into their lives as Torchwood agents.

Chapter Text

A black Range Rover was driving up quickly after a blowfish that was on loose. Tosh was analyzing the creature and said,

“Species not on record. DNA type says some sort of land fish.”

Gwen exasperatedly told Owen, “All I’m saying is, you are speeding and there are children.”

Owen replied, “Well, if kids are out at midnight, they’ve got it coming.”

Tosh got a reading and immediately broke the conversation with, “Detecting high levels of algae.”

Gwen cracked a joke, chuckling, “Who’s afraid of the big scary fish then?”

Tosh and Owen groaned simultaneously at Gwen’s attempt at humor. Owen then quickly asked,

“Do we need special weapons?”

Tosh shook her had as she responded, “Not that I can see.”

Gwen asked, “Do we need special weapons?”

The trio were silent momentarily as Tosh whispered, “Jack, Iris and maybe Ianto would know.”

Owen was silent, knowing that Iris had left them there for a reason, considering the letter that the team received, only to find that Ianto had somehow found his way to be with their boss and newest member.

As they were thinking about the lack of presence of the three pillars of Torchwood, Gwen yelled out, “Blowfish!” as she pointed towards the red rear lights of the sports car speeding away from them.

Owen quickly accelerated the car after he told the two women to hold on. Then Owen yelled out, “Hold the wheel.”

Gwen grabbed the wheel as she panicked and yelled back, “Don’t you dare Owen!”

Owen ignored her and shot the sports car, managing to hit a tire of the car. This forced the car to swerve. Owen quickly got back into the car and held the wheel as Gwen breathed out in relief from the fearful event that just took place.

They all got out of the car, but they were unable to find the Blowfish they had been chasing. Gwen, clearly frustrated, asked,

“Where is it? Where’s it gone?”

Then several gunshots rang out and they ran towards the house the sound originated from.

When the team came into the house, they found a man who was dead by gunshot wound and the Blowfish holding a woman, using her as a human shield and leverage against the Torchwood team.

Owen gave instructions to the team as he said, “Gwen, go left. Tosh go right, I’ll go take center. Positions.”

He warily looked down at the dead man, wishing that they had Ianto with them, but he had to take priorities. The man was already dead and the woman needed help.

Tosh looked at the readings she got from the Blowfish and whistled lowly as she said,

“Massive levels of adrenalin, mixed with approximately three grams of cocaine. This fish is wired.”

The Blowfish glared at all three of them as he bit out, “So this is Team Torchwood. The teacher’s pets. But the teacher’s have gone, haven’t they? Leaving the kiddy kids all alone. And look at you, trying so hard to be all grown up. The doctor, trying so hard to keep the group together. The carer, with her oh-so-beating heart. The technician with her cold devices. All of you, lost without your masters. All of you, pretending to be so brave. All of you, so scared.”

With that, he made a sickly display of kissing his hostage’s head before he continued speaking,

“So, what about it, minion? Can you do it? How good are you? How sharp is your aim? What if you kill her? What if I kill her first? Can you shoot before I do? Can you? Dare you? Would you? Won’t you?”

A loud gunshot rang and the Blowfish fell to the ground with a hole in its head. The trio turned around in surprise and jumped even more when they found another group of people. The man who had shot the Blowfish smirked as he said,

“Hey kids. Did you miss me?”

Gwen, Tosh and Owen merely gaped as Iris and Ianto came up behind from Jack. Iris smiled widely as she waved and said,

“Hey kids! We’re back!”

Ianto smiled, still seeing how Iris improved health-wise. She seemed so much more lighthearted than before. He could see a little bit of a shadow that was expressed by her eyes, but it seemed to bear less burden than before the missing year with the Master.

Owen warily stared at the three people before breaking into one of his rare grins and jumped towards Iris first, hugging her tightly. Iris eyes’ widened in happy surprise and then she hugged him back saying,

“It’s alright, mommy’s back!”

Owen grumbled something close to, “Not again…” and Ianto and Jack laughed at that. Gwen and Tosh hesitated before going up to them and hugging them too. The group spent some time hugging each other before heading back to the Hub.

They all arrived back at the hub, and Gwen immediately asked Tosh,

“Are you sure no more like him came through?”

Tosh glanced towards Iris, who just shrugged happily and smiled. She then responded to Gwen’s question with,

“Cross-referencing with the rift activity monitor…. Doesn’t look like it.”

Ianto, Jack and Iris watched the three people try to manage to work and felt a little out of the picture. Though Ianto was with them before-hand, apparently he had been gathering people for the resistance before the Master got onboard the Valiant. So he had been out of the Hub the moment the President had been shot. And as time tried adjust, Ianto still remembered the memories from the year.

Jack smiled proudly as he said, “Got pretty organized without us.”

Gwen glared a little at Jack, as she said, “Yeah, well we had to.”

Jack smirked at that as he said, “I mean, did you decorate in here? Ow!”

Jack grasped his side after Iris had elbowed him. She shook her head and glared at him, indicating that it wasn’t the time to be cracking jokes with the three people who had been trying to keep Torchwood going with limited manpower.

Jack winced a little when Gwen sighed as she said, “You two left us. And then Ianto sent us a message that he was alright, but took a while to come back.”

Jack looked a little guilty, before saying, “I know. I’m sorry.”

Owen, Tosh and Gwen accepted the apology, knowing that Iris and Jack had left for a reason before saying,

“Thanks to Ianto, we did know where you two were and what you were supposedly against. We do have Iris to thank too for the information, but seriously, you two could have let us all know if you were leaving like that.”

Iris looked at the ground, feeling guilty too as she said, “I know. I’m really sorry, but we had to make sure that the Master knew only a little bit. The more people I got involved I… I risked the Master knowing too. It came so close to him finding about all of you hiding out here, I wasn’t sure if I had done something monumentally stupid.”

Tosh hugged her friend before asking the two, “did you find your Doctor?”

Iris and Jack nodded as Owen came up to them from the autopsy bay. He asked, “Did he fix you two?”

The three people visibly flinched, remembering how close to death Iris was again, as they thought about the best way to word the response to the question. Jack spoke first as he said,

“What’s to fix? You don’t mess with this level of perfection. Iris can prove it.”

Everyone including Iris groaned in disgust at that joke. Iris pushed Jack away from her, running to Ianto as she said,

“Get him away from me. That kind of joke is sexual harassment and I don’t want to go near it!”

Ianto chuckled as he wrapped a protective arm around Iris as he said, “Gladly. Sir, I would like to point out that it’s harassment.”

Owen and Tosh looked at the trio with a puzzled look before glancing at each other. What was going on between the three people? It was almost like Ianto had joined in on the relationship that Jack and Iris were in.

Then Gwen asked, “Are you going back to him?”

Iris then peeked her head around Ianto as she replied,

 “We all came back for Torchwood. Especially you guys. All of you.”

A beeping noise came on and Tosh said, “Rift Activity.”

The team were about to head out when Iris yelled out, “Wait! I need to grab something!”

They all looked at her strangely when she went towards the autopsy bay. She rummaged around the Blowfish’s pockets to find the item that was flashing.

“Got it! We’re going to need it for the guest.”

Jack looked at her, asking who it would be, and Iris smiled a little as she responded,

“You know him.”

That answer only left him a lot of questions since that was a lot of people to sort through. Iris stored the flashing item in her coat pocket and went towards the Rover. Owen gave her a sidelong glance as he sat next to her and asked,

“How are you feeling?”

Iris smiled at his caring side, and answered, “I don’t have the migraines anymore. I feel great and hungry. But the hunger can wait a bit.”

Owen gave her a hug as he said, “That’s great. But what happened? You all flinched when we asked you about the Doctor fixing you.”

All other conversations ceased and Iris sighed out loud, before saying,

“There’s this Time Lord thing where they bond to others. It’s an intimate thing, but I think the first thing is bonding the mind together, but later, it gets stronger and there are physical bonds I’m assuming. I didn’t get the full explanation. But when Harold Saxon, who is a Time Lord called the Master, got shot and died… I almost died along with him.”

Tosh gasped and hugged her friend who sat next to her. They all still clearly remembered Iris’ bloody corpse from when the Rift was forced open.

“How did you survive?” Gwen asked, curious as to how it happened.

Iris blushed a little, still feeling the tingling sensation of the bond with the Doctor. Since she wasn’t close to him, it was almost like he wasn’t there, but she felt a little bit of the Doctor’s excitement at something. She then remembered that Gwen had asked her a question and responded.

“He broke the bond I shared with the Master by forming one with me.”

Tosh then saw how Iris looked down, blushing red, and realized, “But it’s.., you said it was an intimate thing for Time Lords…And he’s-”

Iris blushed even more and Owen and Tosh glanced at both Ianto and Jack. The two men tensed a little, but they didn’t show much emotion on that. Rather, whenever they looked at Iris, they seemed to be relieved that she was smiling and a lot healthier than before they had disappeared.

After a while of driving, they finally arrived at the car park. Iris felt giddy with excitement of her own as she wasn’t’ sure how it was going to be to see John Hart.

Tosh was reading of the information on her scanner, “Fragments of Rift energy around the neck, arm and shoulders.”

Jack looked at the corpse as he said, “He was grabbed and pushed.”

Iris realized how the team automatically settled into its regular pattern of work, as if they had never left. She smiled gently, feeling happy that they had not felt hostile towards Jack and her for running off to see the Doctor.

Tosh looked at Jack and responded nonchalantly, “Explains the residual energy cluster.”

Jack looked at them and smirked a little as he said, “How did you ever manage without me?”

Everyone rolled their eyes at that and Owen ignored him, saying,

“So, there’s a potential killer on the loose. Bipedal, maybe humanoid.”

Iris chipped in, “Definitely humanoid. Might want to be wary with this one.”

The team took that into consideration and Gwen asked,

“Any other alien tech involved Tosh?”

Tosh shook her head as she replied, “No readings suggest that.”

Jack then looked at the team and said, “Okay, let’s get back and see what we can piece together.”

They all nodded and headed back towards the Range Rover while Gwen called her former partner Andy. Suddenly, Jack’s Vortex Manipulator beeped, causing Iris and Ianto’s eyes to immediately fall onto it. Ianto whispered out,

“Whoa, that never beeps.”

Jack nodded as he looked at Iris, who also nodded upon seeing him check up if she knew what was going on. Without asking, he said,

“That’s what I was thinking.”

He then opened the message he got via the Vortex Manipulator and saw a hologram of John Hart come in front of them. John said,

“I can’t believe I got the answer machine. What can you be doing that’s more important than me?”

Jack automatically reached for Iris’ hand with his own, squeezing it tightly. They kept listening,

“Anyway, you’ve probably traced the energy shift, found the body. All me. Sorry about the mess. Bill me for the clean up. Now. Drinks. Retrolock the transmission coordinates, that’s where I am. And hurry up. Work to do. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Iris twitched with annoyance and huffed out a breath, puffing her cheeks to indicate her mood. Jack looked down at her and smiled apologetically. He then turned around and said,

“Stay here. Don’t come after me.”

Gwen, frustrated, asked, “Who was that?!”

But Jack just pointed to all of them and said, “Stay here.”

They all saw him take the Range Rover and drive off. Gwen chased after him, but Iris and Ianto ran towards the empty cab and called out “Taxi!!!”

The team jumped into the taxi and sped off after the Range Rover. But Jack being Jack, he quickly sped away and they relied on Tosh’s equipment. Not too long since they lost sight of the Range Rover, Tosh said,

“Reports coming in of a bar disturbance. Same coordinates as the SUV.”

Gwen immediately contacted the police to state that Torchwood had the issue handled while Owen asked,

“Okay, so who the hell was the bloke in the hologram?”

Iris spoke up, feeling the need to explain the situation just a little bit.

“It’s an old co-worker of Jack’s. His name’s John Hart… and you can probably guess that he’s not from this time period.”

The Torchwood team listened to Iris’ explanation and remained silently before Gwen dejectedly said,

“I wish he would tell us about himself. He shuts out. We don’t even know his real name.”

Iris didn’t have much to say to that herself. She had come to know him as Jack Harkness, that she never asked him about his real name. It also wasn’t something she could just ask him either. He had to want to share with her.

Tosh added quietly to Gwen’s statement with a, “Or which time he comes from.”

Ianto noticed Iris look a little down at that and quickly said, “It is more fun when he’s around, though.”

Iris looked up and smiled at Ianto, happy to have him around.

Owen smiled at that too as he said, “Yeah.”

Tosh nodded too with, “Definitely.”

Gwen smiled widely too as she added, “Yeah, it is.”

Eventually, they arrived at the Bar and quickly entered to see Jack and John holding each other by their shirts, sizing each other up angrily.

Gwen cautiously asked, “Everything all right, Jack?”

Jack responded, “It’s okay, okay, okay.”

John glanced at each of them amusedly as he said, “You’ve got a team. How sweet. Oh, pretty little friends. No blonde, though. You need a blonde.”

Iris tensed a little, irritated at that statement. Owen grimaced as he noticed Iris’ eyes narrow into a dangerous glare. If looks could kills, John would be long gone by now. Owen whispered out towards Tosh,

“God, he’s worse than Jack.”

John heard it though and smirked with a response, “Oh, oh, do you all have a team name? I love team names. Go on.”

Jack said through his teeth, “Torchwood.”

He cautiously stepped back towards Iris, not wanting to trust his former partner.

John looked disappointed at the name and said,

“Oh, not Excalibur? Blizzard? Bikini Cops? No? Torchwood? Oh dear…”

Jack then said, “Iris Kim, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper, Toshiko Sato ad Owen Harper, meet-”

“Captain John Hart” John cut through Jack’s introduction.

Jack sighed and tried to explain to his friends and Iris, “We go back”

John’s eyebrows went up, as if he didn’t believe what he just heard as he said, “Excuse me. WE more than go back. We were partners.”

Ianto looked down at Iris, his expression unreadable as he asked, “In what way?”

Jack tensed as he put an arm around Iris’ waist, causing her to look up at him exasperatedly. She side-stepped a little away from Jack, not sure if she enjoyed the sudden claim to her.

John noticed the interaction happen as he said tauntingly, “In every way. And then some.”

Iris eyes widened and she honestly didn’t want to hear them banter about it and she said,

“Oookay… I don’t think any of us want to listen to that… so…”

Iris then looked back at John and asked, “What are you doing here?”

John looked at her with newfound interest and said, “I was wondering when we’d get to that.”

John showed the entire team his Vortex Manipulator which caused Tosh to mutter out,

“That’s the same as yours.”

Jack looked at it warily and said, “A little smaller.”

He noticed John staring at Iris, as the man said,

“But lasts much longer. Get two Time Agents…”

Iris sighed out in annoyance and just stepped in-between the two former Time Agents and said,

“It’s always about the size of the wrist strap. We get it. Let’s just… stop trying to size each other up and continue with why you’re here?”

Iris honestly wondered if all Time Agents just made everything sexual. It was honestly getting on her nerves.

Jack pulled her a little closer to him as he noticed her obvious annoyance and irritation at both of them when John answered Iris’ question.

“I’m working with this woman. Beautiful, clever, sexy, yadda yadda, and we both get shot. And as she’s dying, she begs me. She tells me about these radiation cluster bombs she’d been working on.”

Owen worriedly glanced towards Jack as he commented, “I don’t like the sound of that.”

John ignored Owen and continued to say, “Three canisters, contents beyond toxic, swallowed up in a rift storm.”

Tosh looked shocked as she whispered out, “And ended up here.”

John made a sound of approval as he said, “Bingo. That’s the downside of your city being built on a rift in space and time. Now, left to their own devices, the radiation will break down the canisters and then infect your people and planet. They need to be neutralized.”

Jack narrowed his eyes even further at John as he asked,

“What do you get out of this?”

John just rolled his eyes at Jack’s suspicious look and answered,

“Dying woman’s wish. Now, there’s only one problem. I don’t know where they are. Hoping local knowledge might help.”

Iris was about to answer to that when Tosh beat her to it and said,

“When we get back to the Hub, I can run a citywide scan on radiation surges and cross reference that with the Rift activity during that time span.”

John glanced at Tosh, almost as if he was undressing her with his eyes, causing Owen to wrap his arm around Tosh’s shoulders possessively while the other man said,

“What are you, the brains and the beauty? You see, together, it’s an easy job.”

Iris sighed in disbelief while Jack said,

“We do this, you get out of here when its finished. Right away.”

John smiled in a wicked manner and asked childishly, “Does this mean I get to see your house?”

Ianto and Gwen glanced at Jack, not liking the idea of the other man coming to the Hub. However, they all arrived at the Plass and stood by the water tower to enter the Hub. Owen had dragged Tosh to the entrance with the Tourist center. Gwen followed them after hesitating a little bit, not liking John’s presence. So it left Iris, Ianto and Jack with John by the Water Tower.

John just looked at them incredulously as he said, “You live in a sculpture. Could you be any more pretentious?”

Iris scoffed at that, earning a warning look from Jack. Iris smirked a little and shrugged, partly enjoying the situation that happened. As much as she disliked John, she liked him too. What could she possibly do? She was a fan of the character. It just made her giddy inside.

Jack shoved John onto the block and said, “Get on.”

John just looked at Iris and Ianto for a moment and asked, “Is the rest of the team not allowed this way?”

Ianto nicely said, “This… is normally the entrance for the tourists.”

Iris and Jack looked at him, not sure what brought the man to speak to John with such a calm demeanor.

John smirked a little towards Jack as he said, “I remember the time you said that to me Jack.”

The slab descended taking all four of them down to the Hub, causing John to look around in decent surprise as he commented,

“It’s roomy, I’ll give you that. Your taste in interior design hasn’t gotten any better though. What is this, sewer chic?”

They finally stopped descending. Iris hopped off with Ianto stepping off after her. They turned around to face John as Jack said,

“Weapons.”

John rolled his eyes exasperatedly and took off his guns and the katana he visibly carried with him. Ianto held onto the silver platter for the weapons. John stopped innocently, prompting Jack to glare at him and say,

“And the rest.”

John  smirked and said, “Oh, you know me. I’m a two weapon man.”

Gwen brought the scanner and listed off, “One pistol strapped to each leg, laser knife beneath left elbow, 17 small explosive charges in the lining of his coat…”

John murmured, “It slipped my mind.”

Iris started taking them off with Jack helping her out with some. John had managed to shove some weapons inside his underwear, which Jack was not going to let Iris go near. As much as Iris seemed to be disgusted by the idea, Jack just felt an overwhelming sense of possessiveness and didn’t want her to even think about it.

After they finally finished, Gwen dragged Jack away to the corridor to talk about something. Iris decided to stand guard by John while Ianto stored the weapons away. Tosh and Owen were analyzing the rift energy. Iris was staring at how close the two had seemed to become when John coughed a little to get her attention.

Irritated that she was brought away from her slight fangirling moment, she looked up at John. Sometimes, she purely hated how short she was. Everybody else was drastically taller than her and it pissed her off more than anything.

She lifted one eyebrow to indicate why he grabbed her attention. John smirked and said,

“Hey beautiful, I don’t think I caught your name.”

Iris almost gagged and she glared at him as she said, “Don’t call me that.”

John smirked even more and said, “Well, I gotta get your name in order to stop calling you that, beautiful. Or would you rather I call you eye-candy?”

Iris shook her head vigorously, not wanting that name more than anything. “Iris.” She mumbled.

John feigned that he hadn’t heard her clearly and she repeated her name a little louder. He smiled childishly and asked,

“How do you know about Time Agents?”

Iris looked at him warily, only to find genuine curiosity in his eyes. She sighed and responded with,

“None of your business. It’s not something you should learn about. I just know from Jack.”

John then seemed to be thinking about something deeply before curiously asking,

“Jack seems to be awfully protective of you. I’ve never really seen him that serious about anyone.”

Iris looked at him surprised at that information. She had known that Jack was well-known for flings and flirting, but not about being serious. And to hear it from John, it was that much more surprising. But before she could ask him something, Jack came back and warily glanced at her and John before saying,

“We’re meeting at the conference room.”

Iris nodded and went to let Ianto know. When they were all in the conference room, Tosh began the meeting with,

“Seven hours ago, we logged a minor surge in Rift energy across three locations.”

John continued with, “Seven of us, three locations, that’s simple. At least two people per canister.”

Jack glared at him and cut in with, “Excuse me, I give the orders.”

John smirked and glanced at Iris with a seductive tone in his reply, “Well, give some, big boy.”

Iris almost spit out the water she was drinking. Ianto looked at the man with annoyance slipping through his normally polite smile.

But Gwen hadn’t caught the sexual implication as she said,

“John’s right. Sorry…er, do you prefer John or Captain?”

Owen almost burst out laughing at Gwen’s obliviousness when John replied, with,

“With eyes like yours, you can call me Vera, I won’t complain.”

Gwen finally seemed to have caught onto what John was doing and she blushed a bright red. Jack’s glare looked scarier as he bit through his teeth,

“Tosh and Owen, take the north. Ianto and I will go west-”

Iris cut through and said, “I will go with John.”

John gave a wicked smile towards Jack, riling him up even more. Ianto and Jack were about to but in when Gwen said,

“I will go with you two.”

Iris thought about it and nodded, knowing that Jack would never let her go if she were to go alone.

Jack looked at them with annoyance in his face as he said, “Excuse me. Not to repeat myself. And Iris, no, you can’t just sign yourself-”

Iris glared at him and stepped on his foot under the table. She had been sitting by him, squished between Jack and Ianto. So she had easy access to his foot. Jack glared back when Gwen said,

“We all know you’re worried about Iris after all that happened, but I will be there too, so do you have a problem with this Jack?”

Jack sighed out loud, and said, “Not at all.”

John smiled even wider, almost resembling the Cheshire cat in human form in Iris’ mind. John then said,

“Now, given the canisters are radioactive, don’t open them, eh?”

Gwen then said, “Let’s go, guys.”

They all rose up when Jack grabbed Iris’ hand and dragged her so that it was just the two of them. John saw and yelled at them,

“Oh can I watch this bit? He’s gonna give you all the dos and don’ts. I love it.”

Ianto almost face-palmed himself at John’s purposeful teasing. He just grabbed John’s arm and said,

“She’ll be with you in a second.”

John just chuckled and let the two have their moment. When they were given privacy, Jack stepped away from Iris a little bit before quickly turning back to face her as he yelled,

“What the hell are you doing?”

Iris immediately recited Gwen’s line from the show,

“If I can get him talking, flirt a bit, he might drop his guard. I can find out what he’s really up to.”

Jack’s facial expression immediately darkened at that and Iris gulped. She hadn’t seen him that angry at all. So she tried to lighten the mood by saying,

“Ok…uh… no flirting?”

Jack didn’t look amused in the slightest. Iris then tried again with,

“Uh… leave the flirting to Gwen?”

Jack almost smiled. The keyword being ‘almost’. Iris noticed and waited for him to say something. But when he only continued to stare at her, she squirmed, not sure what to expect. The tension increased tenfold as she noticed that anger was no longer in Jack’s eyes. It was something else and she wasn’t sure if she was to feel all tingly. She coughed a little but when she looked up at him, she saw him coming closer to her and she gulped. This time, it was out of pure nerves.

Her back hit the wall behind her and she felt a little trapped when Jack’s face was so close to hers. She stopped breathing in anticipation when Jack whispered in her ear,

“He’s dangerous. Stick to Gwen as much as possible.”

Iris nodded, and managed to squeak out, “I’ll be careful. I won’t let him close to me.”

But her voice was so high, clearly betraying her nervousness at the closeness. She couldn’t see Jack smirk, but she realized how both his arms were on the wall, keeping her trapped.

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God….

Iris was only able to repeat the two words rapidly, not able to process much thought as Jack whispered,

“Three rules.”

With that he lowered his head a little to kiss Iris’ neck once as he murmured,

“One. Don’t believe anything he says.”

Iris gulped when she felt a slightly longer kiss on her neck as Jack sucked on it a little, surely leaving a hickey there as he said,

“Two. Always keep him in front of you.”

Iris whimpered a little, feeling like her legs were about to give out. Her head automatically had tilted to give Jack more access, feeling how his body was right against her as he went back to her neck and felt his tongue flick on it after the administration. Jack looked up at her, seeing her eyes glazed over as he managed to say,

“And three. Under no circumstances let him kiss you.”

With that, Jack kissed her on the lips, getting a response from Iris. But before she could deepen the kiss, Jack chuckled and pulled away, leaving her frustrated. She glared at him and huffed, pouting at what he had done.

She stormed away, trying to vent the frustration that had automatically built up inside her. Jack followed. When they were back at the Hub, John smirked at how Iris’ eyes displayed the frustration that he could only guess was Jack’s fault.

He teasingly asked,

“Has he gotten to the no kissing rule yet?”

Iris glared at him, her blush becoming so obvious that Iris looked like she would explode. Ianto almost laughed out loud at that when Gwen rolled her eyes as she pushed John and said,

“Keep in front.”

When they traveled to the docks, Iris sat in the back, keeping an eye on John, but also tuning him out. Jack’s actions from earlier was so sudden that it had caught her off-guard and then made her melt from the inside-out. They had kissed before, but they had never been that intimate. There was never that much amount of sexual tension between them. Or at least from her perspective. She blushed and opened the window slightly, even though the winter air outside was freezing.

Once they were at the docks, they immediately looked through the container storage area. After a while, John said,

“Nothing. Are you two sure this is the right spot?”

Iris nodded at him while Gwen said,

“Yeah. But containers get shifted all the time.”

John groaned as he leaned one container and complained, “This could take days.”

Iris warily eyed John, but tuned out what Gwen and John were talking about. Then Gwen got a phone call and she tailed John, not letting him out of her sights. John noticed her following him. John just groaned again as he said,

“God, you’re so untrusting. But with your boss, it’s probably wise.”

Gwen then ran over to them after the call as she murmured, “Yeah, well, we trust him just fine, thank you.”

John ignored her as he said, “Once a conman, always a conman.”

Iris grimaced a little and countered, “Not really. Those days have been long over.”

John looked at her funny, clearly knowing that he was missing something about Jack when Gwen asked them both,

“What does he mean by that?”

John said, “Look, just don’t rely on him, Gwen. There’s a lot about him you don’t know. Fancy a peek?”

Gwen glanced at Iris, noticing that the younger girl was glaring at John and decided to ignore what the man had just said to her. If Iris thought that Jack was trustworthy, she was going to rely on Iris more than a stranger. They then all opened up the nearest container and then heard John exclaim in joy at his discovery of the canister they had been looking for.

Gwen looked at it warily and asked, “Is that it?”

She maintained her distance from John, actually standing behind Iris a little. Iris knew more about John, and she didn’t trust John. Iris noticed Gwen’s hesitation in approaching the canister and sighed as she went to go pick it up herself. She quickly grabbed it and walked backwards as quickly as she could. However, she wasn’t fast enough to avoid John as she had intended. So she felt John push her to the wall and kiss her intensely. It caught her off-guard and she was barely able to push him off of her.

Gwen pulled her gun out and pointed it at John as she asked angrily,

“What are you doing? Get off her!”

John raised both hands and said, “Celebrating, that’s all. God, the 21st century is so frigid.”

“Gwen, poison…” Iris murmured as she slumped to the floor. Gwen immediately ran over to Iris, hoisting her up so that her head rested on Gwen’s lap. Gwen looked up at John angrily and asked,

“What’ve you done?!”

John just smirked amusedly as he said, “Don’t get up beautiful. I mean, you can’t anyway. Paralyzing lip gloss. I think it might have even been Jack that taught me that trick. Just one problem If Iris is no cured in two hours, your major organs will go into shutdown.”

Then he shook the canister he grabbed from Iris and said,

“Thanks. You two gonna be okay in here without me?”

John then looked at Iris, who was glaring at him, as he continued with, “He won’t stay with you. He and I shared something.”

With that, John stepped out of the container and shut the doors. But he had forgotten one crucial detail as he smugly left the area. Gwen still had her phone with her. Iris immediately told Gwen to call Owen and Tosh first. The woman followed her instructions and called them, warning them about John.

Iris managed to hear Owen curse as they noticed John appear by them and wreak havoc. Gwen then phoned Ianto, hoping that the Welsh man would come over to help them.

Luck wasn’t with her however, as her phone was about to lose batteries. She dug around Iris’ pockets and quickly grabbed her phone. Of course Iris’ phone was practically fully charged. Iris never let her phone battery die if she could have helped it.

Gwen immediately called Ianto again, hoping that he could find them. After over an hour, Iris began to sweat while her body began to go limp even more. Gwen tried to offer body heat so Iris wouldn’t go cold, but it was difficult. It wasn’t exactly comfortable in the container and her legs were complaining from sitting so long.

“Hold on Iris, they will find us soon.” Gwen muttered to the girl who was shaking from the cold. The winter air was flowing into the container, and chilling even Gwen’s bones.

After what seemed like an eternity, Gwen saw the container door open. Owen, Tosh and Ianto ran into the container.

Owen immediately checked Iris, aware of her poisoned state from Gwen’s phone call earlier. He said,

“She’s still breathing. No other discernible injuries. Tosh, let’s get this thing started. Ianto, take a swab. Right, pupils dilating, she’s still conscious. Stay with us, Iris.”

Owen then looked up at Gwen and asked her to fetch the anti-toxin kit for them as he whispered to Iris,

“Iris, hold on.”

Iris felt weak and like she was about to throw up when she regained the strength to move her muscles again. Ianto helped her into the car and drove her to the Hub with Owen checking on her on their way back. Jack was going to kill her for what happened.

Ianto helped her into the Hub while Owen, Tosh and Gwen barged into the Hub with guns in their hands. John was frustratedly looking for something by the Blowfish. Iris spoke up and asked,

“Looking for this?”

She held up the item she had found in the Blowfish’s pocket from earlier. The team looked at it curiously while John responded with,

“Okay, Pretty and resilient. Is that even fair?”

Gwen glared at him and said, “Maybe you didn’t realize. You can beat, shoot, threaten, and even poison us and we keep coming back stronger every time. Also, nobody messes with Iris. We will make sure to get back to those who do.”

Iris looked up at Gwen, surprised that the woman said this about her. Her eyes were about to tear when John just glanced at Iris and then said,

“Well, I think you ought to know your boss is splayed out on the-”

Jack walked in looking pissed more than ever when John gawked at his former partner and said,

“Pavement… Now that’s impressive. Seriously, you can earn a fortune in the Vegas galaxies with an act like that. Go on, how’s it work?”

Jack glared at the man and responded, “I can’t die.”

John didn’t believe Jack as he said, “No but, really.”

Jack shook his head and continued with, “No, but really, you can’t kill me. No matter how many times you try, I can’t die. Ever.”

John looked surprised and then curious as he gently asked, “Hey, but what does I cost you? Every time you have to drag yourself back here, how does it feel? All that pain and trauma. Plus, you’re reborn into this god forsaken mess. I pity you.

Jack remained quiet for a bit before responding,

“These people, this planet, all the beauty you could never see That’s what I come back for.”

Iris looked up at Jack, who gave Ianto a appreciative nod and then Gwen asked John,

“What’s in the canisters?”

Owen added in, “It’s come clean time, Captain.”

John gave in and answered, “Yeah, all right. That woman I told you about had herself an Arcadian diamond. It’s the rarest gem in the Damascene Cluster. Just when I’d got my hands on her, she only generates her own personal Rift storm. God, I hate technological geniuses.”

Tosh and Iris looked offended. Tosh accused John with,

“You said this was a dying woman’s request.”

John scoffed as he said, “Yeah, she was dying. I shot her. Thought my luck had changed when I found it had ended up here. So, I’m thinking fifty-fifty. Even split, good deal. Or if anyone fancies an orgy?”

“Ugh…” Iris exclaimed disgusted by the thought.

Having heard enough, Jack pushed John into his office, having the entire team follow in. Jack shoved the item Iris had retrieved earlier and commanded,

“Open it.”

John complained, “What, not even a please? Don’t your manners get brought back to life too?”

Jack slammed the desk as he yelled, “Now!”

John worked his way through the tetrahedron as he murmured.

“This should give us the location of the diamond.”

A hologram of a woman appeared and Gwen whispered, “The woman you murdered.”

The woman in the hologram taunted John and the item opened up, later revealing a circular device to latch onto John’s chest.”

They all exclaimed in surprise and the hologram continued to say,

“It’s an explosive device which will latch onto the DNA of whoever killed me. It’ll detonate in ten minutes. It can’t be removed without exploding…so, don’t bother trying. Goodbye, lover.”

John’s face paled as he said, “No, wait.”

But the woman in the hologram smirked as she said, “See you in hell.”

Gwen looked at Iris and asked, “She can’t be serious. Ten minutes?”

John begged them to take the machinery off of him and Ianto started his stopwatch. Gwen asked quickly,

“Okay, how big is this explosion likely to be Jack?”

Jack studied the machine and said, “That technology, that size? Big”

Owen responded with, “So we should really get him out of the city.”

John pleaded to Jack, “You’ve got to help me. Please.”

Jack questioned “Why?”

John, angry that Jack would ask such a question, punched him and grabbed Gwen, who had put herself between him and Iris since the poisoning incident.

Iris yelled out, “Let her go!”

John immediately threatened them with, “Get back. Back. Back off. Get Back.”

Gwen gulped in fear as she said, “Iris, help me.”

Iris’ heart clenched at that and her mind was turning at speed of lightning. But John handcuffed himself to Gwen and Iris heard Owen ask in panic,

“Would shooting him stop the DNA trigger?”

Jack shook his head and responded with, “No.”

John glanced at them and said,

“So, what are we gonna do now, team? The orgy’s still an offer, by the way. Especially now I’ve got the cuffs out.”

Iris almost growled in frustration before she realized and yelled towards Tosh,

“Tosh, the Rift predictor program, have you perfected it yet?”

Tosh’s eyes widened in what Iris was planning and nodded as she said, “Pretty much.”

Jack wasn’t quite understanding it when Iris looked at Owen and said, “Torchwood DNA.”

Owen looked at her like she lost her mind for a moment before his brain caught up to what he guessed she was telling him to do. He nodded and quickly prepared a syringe of various blood samples of Torchwood agents.

They finally reached the rooftop car park and saw the Rift appear. Owen quickly ran after John and injected him with the blood samples. John winced in pain and yelled out,

“Argh! Get off me!”

Jack anxiously looked for the machine to fall off and said, “Owen, Iris, it’s not working.”

Ianto said, “15 seconds.”

Gwen asked them, “What are you doing?”

Owen responded with, “Trying to confuse the disk.”

Jack asked Iris, “Why hasn’t it worked?”

Iris glared at him and said, “It did! It’s confusing the disc, just wait for it!”

Ianto counted down from five and Jack yelled, “Go! Run!”

Suddenly, the daylight disappeared and rain fell down on them. John looked around him, clearly surprised that he was still alive as he whispered out,

“What the hell?”

Gwen asked her team, “Guys, what’s going on? Why’s it gone dark?”

Iris answered Gwen with, “The rift’s reverted to the moment John came through. Everything’s jumped back to the beginning of the night.”

Gwen said, “Like you were never here.” Understanding what Iris was saying

Jack groaned and said, “Now we’ve got to avoid ourselves. Great.”

John said, “It’s a temporal displacement. Makes your tongue tingle, doesn’t it? It’s lovely.”

That comment earned him a glare from everyone of the Torchwood team. John deflated a little at that and remained silent for a while as they explained a little about how Owen and Iris confused the disc with Torchwood DNA.

Iris was brought back to the real world when she heard a loud thump and saw John fall to the ground as Gwen fumed in anger with a fist. Iris laughed out loud at how John looked like a puppy that had been kicked really hard. Ianto smiled a little as she continued to laugh. Ianto then remarked,

“Remind me to never get on your bad side.”

Gwen smiled as she realized that everybody seemed proud of her for punching John squarely in the face. Then Jack made John go back from wherever he came from when John suddenly said,

“Oh, by the way, I meant to tell you. I found Gray.”

Iris immediately tensed at the name of Jack’s little brother when Gwen curiously asked, “Who’s Gray?”

Jack shook his head, noticing Iris’ all too familiar look of recognition and said,

“It’s nothing. Let’s get back to work.”

Later, when they had all finally managed to go home, Jack followed Iris to her place. When they finally closed the door behind them, Jack said,

“You let him kiss you.”

Iris looked up at Jack in disbelief and said,

“Are we seriously going to talk about that now?”

Jack looked at her and said, “Look, even if it was an accident, I don’t like it.”

Iris understood what he was saying and responded, “I know, but seriously, if you think I enjoyed that one bit, you’re hallucinating. And anyways, I was distracted by something else.”

Jack lifted one eyebrow at that statement and asked, “Oh, and what could that be?”

Iris looked at him, easily reading that Jack knew what she meant and she almost slammed her head on the wall in regret.

She whispered out, “You know what I mean.”

Then she went to go to her room. And as she was about to open her door, Jack turned her around and slammed her back on the door, pressing himself closer to her.

Iris gulped in anticipation and anxiety, feeling the heat roll off of Jack.

“Uh….” Was all she could manage before Jack’s lips slammed on top of hers and kissed her passionately. Iris responded when Jack pulled away all too soon again and she growled out,

“You tease.”

Jack smirked and said, “Why Ms. Iris, I didn’t know you had it in you to be so desperate.”

Iris glared at him, noticing what he was trying to do. She wanted to retort back when her phone suddenly went off. She wanted to ignore it, but decided against it and looked at the number. She didn’t recognize it and accepted the call when she heard a familiar excited voice say,

“Oh Iris! Oh good, you picked up! I was just calling to make sure you were alright! I just finished reading about Adipose Industries and thought it would be pretty interesting to check out when I felt you go through some painful things and then your emotions get all overboard and I thought-”

Iris blushed deep red at what he was saying and realized that some of her emotions must have slipped through while interacting with Jack. Jack lifted an eyebrow at her, curious as to who was on the other side, but she blushed even further. She hurriedly cut the Doctor’s rambling as she said,

“Doctor…uh… not the best timing…”

Jack laughed out loud at that, realizing what she must have been implying. He understood some aspects of the bond Iris shared with the Doctor, and though it did annoy his possessive side for Iris, it made him crack up.

The Doctor didn’t seem to catch up at first as he said, “What? Why? What’s wrong?” Silence on the other side came through and Iris felt the wriggling sense of embarrassment flow through the bond she shared with the Doctor and she laughed a little, helping it ease her own embarrassment.

“Oh…” Was all the Doctor could manage and then she heard him hurriedly say,

“I will…uh… leave you two… to… uh… finish… whatever you were doing.”

Iris blushed and she scolded the Doctor via the bond and felt the Doctor wince at his intrusion. With that, she ended the phone call and looked at Jack, who just grabbed his stomach and fell down to the ground laughing.

Glaring at the man, she quickly ran into her room and locked the door, yelling,

“See you tomorrow Jack Harkness!”

Jack immediately stood up in shock and then realized that the door was locked and groaned. Well, there went that opportunity.

Chapter Text

Iris washed up and exited her room, already prepared to head to work. She heard the sizzling of something being cooked and headed towards her kitchen. And to her surprise, she saw Jack cooking them breakfast. She watched him in silence and wondered how Jack looked normal. She felt happy to see Jack do something so normal and savored it.

It had been days since they had returned to Torchwood and they were honestly enjoying the sense of normalcy that seemed so rare in their lives.

As if sensing her presence, Jack looked back as he was cooking and said,

“Good morning.”

Iris responded, smiling warmly. “Good morning. I thought you would head back to the Hub last night.”

Jack turned around and set the omelets he had cooked onto the plates as he said,

“Nah, I hope you don’t mind me crashing here. It’s honestly better than the Hub.”

Iris began preparing Jack’s coffee while saying,

“It’s fine. I really don’t mind.”

She then felt two strong arms wrap around her waist and Jack put his head on top of hers just like the many times before the year-that-never-was. Iris leaned into Jack’s embrace, the two people silently enjoying each other’s warmth.

Then Jack muttered, “I could have prepared the coffee.”

Iris smirked as she turned around and said, “But your coffee tastes awful. I’d like to not get sick in the morning, thank you very much. Also, Ianto’s been spoiling me with his great coffee. Returning to anything other than that is a little difficult.”

Jack looked at her with a playful glare as he pouted. Iris pecked his lips with a light kiss and wriggled her way out of his arms to set the coffee onto the table. The moment the pot was on the table, she felt Jack’s hands try to settle on her hips and she bolted away.

Iris ran towards the sofa and tried to keep a distance from Jack, giggling as she said,

“We need to go to work soon!”

Jack didn’t stop his advance on her and quickly hugged her, causing Iris to topple towards the sofa. She felt the sofa beneath her and gasped at the close distance between her and Jack. Iris saw something more than the playfulness in Jack’s eyes as he closed the distance between them and kissed her gently. Making sure she had the bond with the Doctor in mind, Iris leaned into him and wrapped her arms around his neck as she deepened it.

The kiss they shared was much more intimate than before as they struggled to be closer to each other. Their separation from the Master made them realize just how much they longed to be with each other.

When they broke the kiss for air, Iris risked a glance at the clock and groaned as she gently pushed Jack away from her.

“Jack, we have to really eat and go.”

Jack nodded, wishing that the day did not require them to go to work directly, but he got up and helped Iris off the sofa. They ate their breakfast before driving to the Hub.

Once they arrived, Jack immediately delved into his paperwork and calls while Iris caught up to what Tosh and Owen were working on. The day went on as if it was a normal scenario when it was finally time for lunch. Ianto had gone out to pick food up from the nearby Chinese restaurant. Iris groaned at returning to outside lunches, but she acquiesced.

The team were joyfully talking about stuff including about Gwen’s engagement to Rhys. But Iris thought back to John Hart and how he talked about Gray. Iris glanced at Jack and planned to tell him that night about Gray. Not the entire story, but that Jack should be wary about their next encounter with John.

But fate was not in her favor as Jack came out of his office and indicated to Iris to come into his office. Jack looked thoroughly annoyed from whatever call he had been making. Iris closed the door behind her and asked,

“What is it?”

Jack rubbed his face with his hands in frustration and said, “UNIT just called for help down in London.”

Iris frowned as she didn’t quite get what was going on as she asked, “Why call for our help?”

Jack looked at her and murmured, “Titanic.”

“Oh…” Iris said.

In fact, a few days back, while Iris and Jack had been watching a movie together back at her place, she felt an overwhelming sense of adrenaline and fear from the Doctor through their bond. And then the Titanic had almost crashed the Buckingham Palace. That required a whole new amount of paperwork from both Torchwood and UNIT.

And since then, UNIT was tied up with cleaning up after the mess the Doctor had left with that incident since UNIT’s main base was much closer to the palace than Torchwood was.

“What are they asking for?” Iris asked.

Jack said, “They want some information regarding Adipose Industries. They’re getting strange readings and can’t send people over to work undercover and thought that we would be able to send some people.”

Iris groaned and said, “And you wanted me to check it out?”

Jack nodded and said, “Well, you suggested it to the Doctor, so might as well. If I’m guessing right, he will be there, so I think you should be fine…”

Iris smirked and said, “Aren’t you going to come with me?”

Jack shook his head, looking disappointed that he couldn’t go with her as he said,

“There’s another case we have to look at. It’s horrible timing, but I have to be there. I might get lucky and join you later, but I have an inkling that the Doctor wouldn’t stay around that long.”

Iris sighed and said, “I can go. Just call me to let me know what the case is about.”

Jack nodded and hugged her, before saying, “Go back home and pack. UNIT’s Kate Steward will talk with you about it.”

Iris’ eyes widened and then she smiled as she said, “Are you making me your ambassador now?”

Jack just tousled her hair as he said, “Whatever. Just go and remind the Doctor to not do anything stupid.”

Iris raised an eyebrow at that and asked, “You think whatever I will say will prevent him from doing that?”

Jack looked at her and laughed out loud as he admitted, “No, not really.”

Iris told Ianto that she was going to head over to London. Since Ianto’s appearance on the Valiant, Iris made sure to keep Ianto in the loop as much as possible. She trusted him with more information than anything. Also, his presence comforted her.

Ianto decided that he should withhold his feelings for Iris, noticing how close she was with Jack. He tried to be friendly without making it plainly obvious that he was pining after her. Tosh had tackled him the day after John Hart left, saying that Ianto should confess to Iris, but Ianto hesitated.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to be confuse Iris. But he nor Jack was aware of one thing. Iris’ bond with the Doctor was confusing her the most. She did not show it, but it really confused her from time to time. Even as she kissed Jack that morning, she had to constantly be mindful of the bond. And as wonderful the kiss was and how much she wanted it, one part of her mind wasn’t comfortable with it. The part that reminded her that she had bonded with the Doctor and not Jack.

Iris needed an explanation from the Doctor about this. A thorough one. Iris sighed as she finished packing her bag with simple necessities such as her journal, phone and laptop. She also brought her handgun with her, just in case. She knew that the Doctor had a big no-weapons policy, but Jack would kill her if she didn’t take it with her.

As she zipped her backpack, she heard a knock at her door and quickly opened it. Kate Steward was there and Iris broke into one of her biggest smile as she said,

“Kate Steward! It’s really nice to finally meet you. I’m Iris Kim, the Technician and secondary medic from Torchwood.”

Kate shook her hand as she replied, “Kate Steward, leader of the science team in UNIT. Pleasure to meet you. We heard a lot about you from Captain Harkness.”

Iris nodded and quickly followed the woman to the car. It was a long way to the Tower of London.

When they finally arrived, Iris had gotten the briefing and identity she was go into the company under. Iris had no problem getting prepared for the role she had been given. She was to go as a normal worker for the company and find out as much information as possible.

Iris dressed in navy-blue dress pants with a white dress shirt. She had an inkling that she might regret the white shirt, but it was the only clean shirt that she had at the moment. She blamed Jack for the rest. Adjusting her glasses, she parted ways with Kate Steward.

As she headed towards the glass fronted building, she noticed someone with red hair and realized that she did recognized the woman. It was Donna Noble. Iris almost smashed into another person as she stared at the woman who passed through security.

Shaking her head, she decided to focus on her own task as she went to the office that she was to be a part of. Once she got settled into her desk within the office, she began to download all the information she could grasp, making sure that it was undetectable. Later in the afternoon, she was instructed to go to the lecture hall since she was a new employee for Adipose Industries.

If she were to work more proficiently, the senior workers stated that she needed to know more about the company itself. Without complaint, Iris sat in a well-positioned seat towards the back. As she waited in her seat, she noticed people filing in one-by-one, and eventually, Donna Noble joined the fray as she sat down a few rows ahead of her. Iris smiled, knowing exactly what was happening as the presentation began.

Foster was giving the presentation, saying,

“Adipose Industries, the 21st century way to lose weight. No exercise, no diet, no pain. Just lifelong freedom from fat. The Holy Grail of the modern age. And here it is. You just take one capsule. One capsule, once a day for three weeks, and the fat, as they say…”

Then the narrator on screen said, “The fat just walks away.”

Iris just rolled her eyes at the literal meaning of the catchphrase the company had come up with. She tuned out the rest of the questions the woman called Penny was giving to Foster as she felt the bond with the Doctor grow a little stronger. Not wanting to give away her presence, Iris tried closing down her side of the bond just momentarily. She didn’t want to meet him just yet. She had to get enough material for UNIT and Torchwood since it had become her responsibility to fill out the paperwork with whatever was taking place at Adipose Industries.

When it seemed the presentation was done, Iris immediately stood up and went towards her desk to start her infiltration of the company information. She picked up the machine that would help her hack her way to gather information. Toshiko and Iris had upgraded it since the last time that they had to use it with the Weevil incident. She then attached the tool onto her computer and impatiently waited for the information to load. Once it had finished, she hid it back inside her bag and proceeded to continue her act as a call center worker.

Iris picked up a call and responded with, “Good morning. I represent Adipose Industries.”

Then she saw a shadow over her and looked up as a wave of red hair came near her. It was Donna Noble. Iris acted naturally and continued her call with,

“That’s a three week course of pills for a special price of 45 pounds.”

Donna whispered to her, “Donna Noble, Health and Safety. Don’t mind me.”

Iris nodded with a smirk while she continued speaking to the client on the phone with,

“The box comes with 21 days worth of pills, a full information pack, and our special free gift, an Adipose Industries pendant.”

Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Donna pick up the very pendant she had mentioned and study it with interest. Once she finished the call, Donna quickly told her,

“I’ll just need to keep this for testing. And I just need a list of your customers Could you print it off?”

Iris smiled a warm smile at the woman as she responded, “I suppose so.”

Donna smiled back at her as she asked, “Where’s the printer?”

Iris pointed to the machine as she said, “Just over there, by the plant.”

Donna squinted and asked, “Which plant, that plant?”

Iris nodded and said, “Yup! That’s the one.”

Donna smiled and waved at her, saying “Lovely. Thanks.”

Iris then interrupted her before she left with, “It doesn’t need a code by the way. Just prints and you can pick it up.”

Donna gave her a thumbs up and headed towards the printer. Iris took a glimpse as Donna took the papers and walked away, only to find the Doctor approach it, look around, and run back to the woman called Clare to print the list again.

Iris shook her head in amusement and continued her day. Eventually, she left just like everyone else. She took a different direction however, and headed towards the Tower of London. Once she arrived there, she waved her Torchwood identification tag and code number, allowing her access to Kate Stewart’s office and UNIT.

Before she headed towards the woman’s office, she quickly jumped into the bathroom and changed clothing to a more comfortable one. Now she had on black leggings with a huge pastel-pink hoodie. She had her glasses still on with her hair now in a more comfortable messy bun.

With that, she knocked on Kate Stewart’s door. Iris heard a faint,

“Come in.”

Hearing the response, Iris stepped into the room as she said, “It’s me, Iris Kim.”

“How was it?” Kate asked her, noticing the change in clothing.

Iris shrugged and handed the USB that held the information she had transferred from Adipose Industries.

“The information in there should be enough. After tomorrow night, you should notice the Doctor’s handiwork, but just in case, we should be wary about representing Earth to the Shadow Proclamation again. As you know, seeding on a level five planet is illegal and Foster is directly responsible for the birth of all the Adipose babies. Media coverage and responsibility should be done by Torchwood so you don’t need to worry about that. If you can represent for the planet to the Shadow Proclamation in a professional manner it would be helpful.”

Kate raised one eyebrow as she asked, “Why would you task us with that?”

Iris leaned back in her chair as she replied, “Torchwood, as much as we try to be efficient in what we do, is not best with maintaining peace with others except me, Jack Harkness, and Ianto Jones. The rest can be… well… they may prefer the method of shoot-first and ask questions later.”

Kate nodded and agreed to do so. Iris then left after arranging what UNIT needed to do and asking her about Martha Jones. It turned out that Martha was settling down well and working well in UNIT.

Iris reached the hotel room she was staying at for the night and exhaustedly jumped onto the bed. Tiredly, she decided to call Jack. She waited and then after a few rings, the man picked up.

“Iris? It might not be a good time to call right now.”

Iris frowned as she asked, “Why? What’s wrong?”

Jack hesitated before asking, “Do you know anything about sleepers?”

Iris tensed at the mention and asked, “Is it Beth?”

Jack responded with a yes and continued to say, “Yeah, we are having her stay at Torchwood in one of the holding cells.”

Iris wasn’t sure what to say, especially since whenever she had time to think about anything not about the Adipose Industries, it always seemed to lead to what had happened with John and his mention of Gray.

Jack noticed that Iris was not confident with what she was feeling and changed the subject with,

“How are you?”

Iris sighed out loud and said, “Nothing I can’t handle, really. It’s going as it should and I got UNIT to handle the most important part. All Torchwood has to do is handle the media and whatnot.”

Jack sighed as he said, “More paperwork?”

Iris smiled a little as she heard the pout in Jack’s voice as she said, “Yup.”

“Jack?” Iris said after a few seconds of quietness.

“Yeah?” Jack responded.

Iris waited a bit, gaining her courage as she said, “I love you.”

Iris heard Jack take in a breath and then respond with, “I love you too. We got this dealt with I think, so if you meet the Doctor, don’t feel guilty if something happens.”

Iris smiled at that and said, “You sure you’ll be alright without me? Last time, we didn’t get to do much because of him.”

Jack remained silent and he chuckled as he said, “I… I think I can wait a little longer I guess. Though I do wish you were here with me.”

Iris smirked as an idea popped in her head as she said, “So you are positive that you can survive without feeling my lips on yours? My fingers not running through your hair and tugging on it?”

She heard Jack intake a breath from shock. She had never been this obvious about their relationship. Then Jack replied with a shaky breath,

“What about you? You sure you can survive not feeling my hands on your hips as we-”

“Oh look at the time! Too bad, gotta go!” Iris said, smirking widely as she quickly hung up.

She enjoyed this a little too much, she knew that. But it was fun to tease Jack. Last time, he had teased her and needed to realize something: two could play the game.

On the other line, Jack incredulously looked at his phone. He couldn’t believe that he fell for her tricks. Sighing out loud in frustration, he tried to ignore the growing feel of desire flowing through him.

Back at the hotel, Iris yawned as the exhaustion really got to her. She lied down on her bed and closed her eyes, making sure to get a good amount of sleep. The next day, she made sure to hang around the building. She was doing the allotted work, but not focusing really on the task. Rather, she was making sure she hid her traces of taking the information out. She had her trench-coat with her today and decided to stay after-hours. Knowing that Donna and Penny were going to hide in the women’s bathroom, she went towards a closet where there were no CCTVs in the area.

Once she was there, it was only a matter of waiting for the excitement to begin. It really felt like a long wait for her to just use her time to wait until the Adipose came to pick up their children. UNIT was on stand-by to make sure the panic was going to be controlled as much as possible, but she was to wait here within Adipose to ensure that nothing out-of-place occurred.

Once it was time, she snuck out and made sure that she used the device that Toshiko had gotten her to make CCTVs momentarily freeze so that she could move undetected. But then, she knew not to head to Miss Foster’s office just quite yet.

Once she heard the gunshots, she made sure that the area by Ms. Foster’s office was mostly empty before heading in. Penny looked at her incredulously and said,

“Oy! Don’t just stare at me like that! Let me out!”

With an exasperated sigh, Iris untied the woman and said,

“Don’t come back will you? It’s going to become a bit of a bloodbath.”

Penny looked at her if she was insane and said, “There’s no way I’m going to just let this slide. This needs to be published!”

Iris shook her head and threatened the girl a little.

“Look, I don’t want to do this to you, but the moment you publish this, you and your family will be marked by the government, Torchwood and UNIT. Might as well stay out of trouble and live a normal life instead of being imprisoned for life?”

Penny looked at her with slight fear and then ran off, not wanting to be by the building anymore. Waiting patiently by the window, Iris looked out the window. After not even five minutes, Iris saw feet dangling by the windows. Laughing a little to herself at the sight of flailing feet, she opened the window and yelled out,

“Donna Noble! I’m Iris from earlier! Let me help you get inside!”

Donna looked a little downwards to find Iris’ arms stretched out to reach her legs and screamed,

“Help me! NOW!”

Iris quickly grabbed onto Donna and safely put her inside the building when the door slammed open to reveal the Doctor. Donna huffed out loud in shock and frustration as she said,

“Thank you!”

Then glaring at the Time Lord, she stomped towards him and said,

“I was right. It’s always like this with you, innit?”

The Doctor hadn’t seen Iris just yet and smiled as he said, “Oh, yes!”

Their reunion was quickly interrupted by a cough. The Doctor looked up in surprise to see Iris standing there, her arms crossed. She was smirking as she said,

“Hello Doctor.”

“Iris? What are you doing here?”

Iris rolled her eyes before grabbing onto the Doctor’s hand and ignored his question, instead dragging them along as she said,

“No time to explain yet. Time to go.”

With that, the trio headed down to the call enter to only run into Miss Foster and her guards. Foster had a sinister smile on her face as she said,

“Well, then. At last.”

Donna muttered a slightly embarrassed “Hello.”

The Doctor smiled a little as he said,

“Nice to meet you, I’m the Doctor.”

Donna joined in with, “And I’m Donna.”

Iris followed suit with, “Iris.”

Foster looked at three of them, although Iris caught a perplexed look from Foster when they met eye contact. The expression was quickly gone and replaced with a sinister one as the woman said,

“Partners in crime. And evidently off-worlders, judging by your sonic technology.”

The Doctor smiled wider as he said, “Oh, yes, I’ve still got your sonic pen. Nice. I like it. Sleek. It’s kind of sleek.”

Donna and Iris nodded as the other woman said, “Oh it’s definitely sleek.”

Iris then spoke before the Doctor, saying “Yeah, and if you were to sign your real name, that would be?”

Foster looked at Iris warily as she slowly responded with, “Matron Cofelia of the Five Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet. Intergalactic Class.”

The Doctor’s eyes widened as he tugged a little sense of surprise to Iris through their bond before commenting,

“A wet nurse, using humans as surrogates.”

Foster looked at them and calmly said, “I’ve been employed by the Adiposian First Family to foster a new generation after their breeding planet was lost.”

The Doctor frowned and Iris felt an immense amount of confusion through the bond and tried to soothe him a little using the same method. But the Doctor asked,

“What do you mean lost? How do you lose a planet?”

Foster just rolled her eyes and said in a nonchalant manner, “Oh, politics are none of my concern. I’m just here to take care of the children on behalf of the parents.”

Donna looked at the woman across from her in shock as she asked, “What, like an outer space super nanny?”

Foster looked at Donna in disdain as she responded, “Yes, if you like.”

Donna, clearly confused, began to say,

“So. So those little things, they’re… they’re made out of fat, yeah, but that woman, Stacy Campbell, there was nothing left of her.”

Iris grimaced upon hearing about the person she had not saved. If she had been a little more actively saving people, would this have been prevented?

As if sensing her guilt, the Doctor set a hand on Iris’ back to calm her. Iris hid the grimace when the Doctor responded angrily to Foster’s earlier answer to Donna’s statement.

“Seeing a level five planet is against galactic law.”

Foster looked head on to the Doctor, seeing how he had placed a hand on Iris’ back, trying to discern the relationship the two had. She then cautiously asked,

“Are you threatening me?”

The Doctor replied as calmly as he could, “I’m trying to help you, Matron. This is your one chance, because if you don’t call this off, then I’ll have to stop you.”

Foster smiled wickedly as she said, “I hardly think you can stop bullets.”

The guards took aim with the guns in their hands and Iris tensed immediately. She then quickly said,

“Wait! Hold on, hold on… one more thing, before you go on ahead and kill us. Do you perhaps know what happens if you hold two identical sonic devices against each other?”

Foster frowned and said “no” while the Doctor smirked in excitement as he said,

“Nor me Let’s find out.”

Iris flinched and covered her ears for a bit before running out of the office. Donna dragged the Doctor out as the three people bolted out to find a safer place to be. Once they arrived, Iris immediately helped the Doctor empty out the cupboard. The Time Lord and Iris heard Donna say,

“Well, that’s one solution. Hide in a cupboard. I like it.”

Iris chuckled and the Doctor gave her an annoyed look as he responded to the new companion,

“I’ve been hacking into this thing all day, because the matron’s got a computer core running through the centre of the building. Triple deadlocked. But now I’ve got this, I can get into it.”

Iris held some wires for the Doctor as she told the Time Lord,

“She’s wired up the whole building. We’re going to need a bit of privacy.”

The Doctor set the force field up and said, “Just enough to stop them. Why’s she wired up the tower block? What’s it all for?”

As Iris and the Doctor worked on the wiring, Donna asked,

“You look older.”

Iris tensed a little and looked at the Doctor sadly, though hearing the Doctor thank the woman without much seriousness.

Donna then looked at Iris as she said, “So not on your own anymore?”

The Doctor was about to respond when Iris said,

“He’s still alone. It’s just… well…”

The Doctor continued the response with, “Well, I had this friend. Martha she was called. Martha Jones. She was brilliant. And I destroyed half her life. But she’s fine. She’s good. She’s gone.”

Iris shook her head and said, “He didn’t really ruin her life so much. You can just say it was really bad, but… all of us got through it. I only met Martha during the most difficult part of her life, but I think she wouldn’t exchange that experience for anything else in the world. She won’t regret it.”

The Doctor smiled sadly when Donna asked again,

“Do you travel with him Iris?”

Iris looked up at the woman and shook her head as she said, “Not yet. I traveled once with him… but it… it was a bumpy ride.”

The Doctor groaned as he said, “You clung onto the outside of the TARDIS. Of course it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Donna looked at Iris as if she was insane when the girl lightheartedly snapped,

“Don’t you put the blame on me mister! If you had let us on the TARDIS, we wouldn’t have done that. You instead decided to try to run from Jack and me.”

Donna looked at the Doctor this time and rolled her eyes and said,

“Men.”

Iris and the Doctor looked at her for a moment in surprise before laughing a little. But it quickly died down when Donna asked,

“What about Rose?”

Iris felt the Doctor immediately sadden through the bond and wasn’t sure what to do as he said,

“Still lost.”

Trying to change the topic, the Doctor asked, “I thought you were going to travel the world?”

Donna shrugged her shoulders as she said,

“Easier said then done. It’s like I had that one day with you, and I was going to change I was going to do so much. Then I woke up the next morning, same old life. It’s like you were never there. And I tried. I did try. I went to Egypt. I was going to go barefoot and everything. And then it’s all bus trips and guidebooks and don’t drink the water, and two weeks later you’re back home. It’s nothing like being with you. I must have been made turning down that offer.”

Iris gently smiled to Donna as the Doctor asked,

“What offer?”

Donna responded in a matter-of-factly tone, “To come with you.”

The Doctor asked, “Come with me?”

Iris wanted to hit her head on the nearest wall hearing that question as Donna said, “Oh yes, please.”

Miscommunication was one thing that the Doctor seemed to excel at some times. The Doctor realized this from the bond. He sensed how annoyed Iris was at him for the second as he muttered embarrassed, “Right.”

Then the computer voice said, “Inducer activated.”

Iris swore under her breath and quickened her work on the computer as Donna asked, “What’s it doing now?”

Iris responded, “She’s started the program.”

The Doctor sensed the distress Iris seemed to be feeling and tried to console her. He risked a glance at her facial expression. She didn’t show much emotion as if to not scare him or Donna, but he realized that she knew what was happening outside with the information she held from the show.

Thankfully, Iris had deadlocked those memories from the Doctor beforehand and was not easily accessible.

Iris felt the warmth flow through the bond and smiled a little at him before focusing back on her work on the computer. She saw the Doctor notice the readings on the computer and his immediate anger as he said,

“So far they’re just losing weight, but the Matron’s gone up to emergency pathogenesis.”

Donna looked horrified and said, “And that’s when they convert.”

Iris sadly responded with, “Skeletons, organs, everything. A million people are going to die. We have to cancel the signal.”

As she was saying this, the Doctor dismantled the pendant he had from earlier. He said,

“This contains a primary signal. If I can switch if off, the fat goes back to being just fat.”

Iris ground her teeth when the inducer increased. Immediately, she tried working on it, knowing that Donna had the second pendant.

As the Doctor vented his anger, Donna asked Iris, “Is there anything I can do?”

The Doctor answered instead with, “Sorry, Donna. This is way beyond you. Got to double the base pulse, I can’t.”

Iris ignored him and said, “Donna, you still have that pendant?”

Donna looked at Iris for a moment before a look of realization came across her face. She immediately pulled it out to hand to the Doctor. The man looked up in surprise as he said

“Donna! You’re brilliant!”

With that, he pulled it apart and plugged it in, causing the inducer to shut down. Soon enough, they all heard a loud noise and the three people looked up as Donna asked in fear, “What the hell was that?”

Iris responded hurriedly, “Nursery ship.”

The computer lit up and a signal came through. Donna looked at Iris worriedly as she asked,

“Hadn’t we better go and stop them?”

The Doctor shushed them as he said, “Hang on. Instructions from the Adiposian First Family. She’s wired up the tower block to convert it into a levitation post. Oooh… Oh! We’re not the ones in trouble now. She is!”

With that, the three people bolted to the roof. Once they had arrived, Donna asked the duo,

“What are you two going to do then? Blow them up?”

The Doctor saw Iris communicating to someone as he shook his head and said,

“They’re just children. They can’t help where they come from.”

Donna looked at him with surprise as she said, “Oh, that makes a change from last time. That Martha must’ve done you good.”

The Doctor smiled as he said, “She did, yeah. Yeah. She did. She fancied me.”

Donna smiled back as she responded jokingly, “Mat Martha, that one. Blind Martha. Charity Martha.”

The two began waving at the Adipose babies and Donna chuckled as if not believing the situation as she said, “I’m waving at fat.”

Iris walked up to them, having finished calling UNIT and instructing them what to do. The Doctor looked at the two in mischief as he said,

“Actually, as a diet plan, it sort of works. There she is!”

They all saw Foster levitate upwards as the Doctor yelled out,

“Matron Cofelia, listen to me.”

Foster shook her head, giving them a victorious smile and said, “Oh, I don’t think so, Doctor. And if I never see you again, it’ll be too soon.”

Iris yelled out, “Matron Cofelia, we heard a signal from the parents! They know it’s a crime to breed on Earth so they want to get rid of their accomplice!”

Foster smirked and said, “I’m more than that, my dear legend. I’m nanny to all these children.”

Iris froze at that. Did Foster just call her a legend? What did that imply? But Doctor must not have heard that as he said,

“Exactly! Mum and Dad have got the kids now. They don’t need the nanny anymore.”

But they were too late as Foster fell to her death once the levitation beam was turned off. Iris cried out in guilt and the Doctor immediately turned her around so that she was in his arms. Donna looked at them and wondered just how close the two really were. She had noticed how there seemed to be an invisible bond between the two and that they seemed to be super friendly.

But she had also seen how Iris froze when Foster had said the word legend while looking at her. Iris seemed to be scared about something and Donna felt protective of the younger woman. Eventually, they all exited the building and handed Iris the sonic pen. Iris pocketed it and took a mental note to keep it in the Torchwood archives. As they were walking away, they saw Penny just glare at them and yell,

“Oi, you three! You’re just mad. Do you hear me? MAD!! And I’m going to report you for… madness.”

Donna snickered as she said, “You see, some people just can’t take it.”

The Doctor looked at the two women and said, “No.”

Donna said then, “And some people can. So, then. TARDIS! Come on!”

Iris chuckled as the two followed the overly excited woman. Once they arrived where the TARDIS was parked, Donna exclaimed,

“That’s my car! That is like destiny. And I’ve been ready for this. I packed ages ago, just in case Because I thought, hot weather, cold weather, no weather. He goes anywhere. I’ve gotta be prepared.”

Iris snickered, earning a glare from the Time Lord, who jabbed her in her side with a finger.

“Urgh! The pain!” Iris exclaimed, hugging her body from the shocking sensation.

Donna just ignored their antics as she unloaded the boxes into the Doctor’s arms. The Doctor looked at one and said with amusement,

“You’ve got a hatbox.”

Donna yelled out, “Planet of the Hats! I’m ready.”

Then she looked at the Doctor as she seriously asked, “I don’t need injections, do I? You know, like when you got to Cambodia. Is there any of the that? Because my friend Veena went to Bahrain, and she. You’re not saying much.”

The Doctor looked at Donna then to Iris as he said, “No, it’s just. It’s a funny old life, in the TARDIS.”

Donna looked crestfallen as she said, “You don’t want me.”

Iris quickly sneaked off and called Jack to let him know that she was ok. But she was more surprised when Jack said,

“Hey, if he’s ok with it, go travel with him.”

“Jack…” Iris whispered.

“Go. Explore the universe! Have some fun. Just make sure that you come back to us, alright?”

Iris smiled warmly and said, “Yes, sir.”

Jack sighed and chuckled before saying farewells. Iris bade him goodbye and headed back to the TARDIS. Donna had gone to leave the car keys to someone, Iris knowing that it would be Rose. But she saw the Doctor loading Donna’s boxes into the TARDIS. Sensing her presence, he asked,

“You knew about this didn’t you?”

Iris feigned ignorance and asked, “What are you talking about?”

“Donna being my companion.”

Iris sighed and said, “Yes. She’ll be good for you.”

The Doctor then turned around and said, “And you?”

Iris put her hands in her pockets as she asked again, “What?”

The Doctor walked up to her, making her hold in her breath from the closeness as he asked,

“Come with me?”

Iris eyes’ widened and said, “You sure?”

The Doctor sent a wave of emotions through their bond and Iris gasped. Looking at the Time Lord, she hesitated before nodding silently and smiling widely. Before they could say anything more, Donna came running in and dragged them both inside.

“Off we go, then.”

Iris laughed, wondering how Donna knew that she was tagging along. The Doctor looked at the two of them and said,

“Here it is. The TARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”

Iris looked around while Donna responded. She finally will be traveling through the universe in time and space.

The Doctor said, “So, whole wide universe, where do you want to go?”

Donna grinned and said, “Oh, I know exactly the place.”

The Doctor asked her expectantly, “Which is?”

Donna smirked and said, “Two and a half miles that way.”

The Doctor looked at Iris in confusion and she merely shrugged, smirking. With a sigh, the Doctor did exactly that after hearing the reason why. The Doctor then opened the door and began waving his hands with Donna and Iris to show Wilf of them traveling.

The Doctor smiled widely. Maybe he could enjoy the presence of another companion. Not one, but two. And his side of the bond tingled with excitement from both Iris and himself. 

Chapter Text

Once the TARDIS landed, Iris and the Doctor watched Donna excitedly run towards the door. When they all stepped out, Donna’s mouth opened in surprise as the Doctor said,

“Ancient Rome. Well, not for them, obviously. To all intents and purposes, right now, this is brand new Rome.”

Iris looked at the Doctor with a knowing look before hiding it. She knew where this was, and what will happen. But the look on Donna’s face prevented her from ruining the woman’s happy mood.

“Oh, my God. It’s… it’s so Roman. This is fantastic!”

The Doctor chuckled and smiled at Iris, seeing how she looked around her with a hint of curiosity. He felt her side of the bond flare up with wonder and awe. Meanwhile, Donna continued to mutter,

“I’m here, in Rome. Donna Noble in Rome. This is just weird. I mean, everyone here’s dead.”

The Doctor immediately smiled a little less as he awkwardly whispered, “Well, don’t tell them that.”

Iris elbowed him with an annoyed look. The Doctor shrugged as they heard Donna exclaim,

“Hold on a minute. That sign over there’s in English.”

Iris looked at the sign and said quickly, “That would be the TARDIS translation circuits. It just makes the words look like English for us. Speech as well. You’re actually talking in Latin right now.”

Donna looked at the two people with surprise and slight doubt as she asked, “Seriously?”

The Doctor just muttered, “Mmhmm.”

Donna mischievously smiled a little as she whispered, “I just said seriously in Latin.”

The Doctor smirked back as he said, “Oh, yeah.”

Iris knowing what Donna was going to say, tried to hold in her laughter as Donna said,

“What if I said something in actual Latin, like veni, vidi, vici? My dad said that when he came back from football. If I said veni, vidi, vici to that lot, what would it sound like?”

The Doctor looked at his new companion with shock as the thought processed in his head. Iris struggled to keep her laughter in as she felt the immense amount of confusion roll through the Time Lord’s mind as he slowly said,

“I’m not sure. You have to think of difficult questions, don’t you?”

Donna smiled widely as she said, “I’m going to try it.”

As the Time Lord and Iris watched the interaction, the Doctor whispered,

“She’s going to ask a lot of these questions, right?”

Iris just hummed excitedly, not really giving him answers. He looked at her and asked,

“Anything? Nothing? Iris…”

Iris looked up to see puppy eyes and shook her head. She couldn’t believe how adorable he looked with them. But she just said, “Spoilers.”

The Doctor pouted when Donna grabbed their attention as she came towards them, saying,

“How’s he mean, Celtic?”

The Doctor replied with, “Welsh. You sound Welsh. There we are. Learnt something.”

Then as if noticing something, Donna looked down at her own clothes, then at Iris’ and then at the Doctor’s clothing as she asked,

“Don’t our clothes look a bit odd?”

The Doctor waved it off with, “Nah. Ancient Rome, anything goes. It’s like Soho, but bigger.”

Donna frowned as she asked, “You’ve been here before then?”

The Doctor nonchalantly answered,

“Mmm. Ages ago. Before you two ask, that fire had nothing to do with me. Well, a little bit.”

Iris rolled her eyes at that and Donna caught the action and sniggered, as the Doctor continued with,

“But I haven’t got the chance to look around properly. Coliseum, Pantheon, Circus Maximus. You’d expect them to be looming by now. Where is everything? Try this way.”

Donna looked at Iris for an answer and caught Iris wince slightly. But not thinking much of it, Donna just followed the two other time travelers. Then she noticed something odd as she asked Iris,

“Not an expert, but there’s seven hills of Rome, aren’t there? How come they’ve only got one?”

They then felt the ground shake as Iris said,

“Because this really isn’t Rome. It’s Pompeii.”

The Doctor felt the trepidation from Iris through their bond as he realized why she felt what she did. He looked at Donna with the same trepidation as he said,

“We’re in Pompeii… and it’s volcano day.”

Donna looked at the Doctor in shock, then at Iris, only to feel fearful about her current location. After a second of just staring at each other, they bolted towards where they had parked the TARDIS. But Iris knew what would happen. And she wasn’t sure what the Doctor’s reaction would be to that.

When they arrived, Donna gasped and she exasperatedly said,

“You’re kidding. You’re not telling me the TARDIS has gone.”

The Doctor turned and looked at Iris, raising an eyebrow with a silent question. Iris felt the amusement and annoyance rippling through their bond and she merely shrugged with a guilty look. Shaking his head, the Time Lord turned around while Donna asked,

“Where is it then?”

Iris chuckled as the Doctor answered,

“You told me not to tell you.”

Donna pointed an accusatory finger at the Time Lord as she said, “Oi! Don’t get clever in Latin.”

The Doctor then turned around and asked, “You know where it is, don’t you?”

Iris smirked and said, “I do. But you better talk to the stall holder over there.”

Confused at her instructions, he frowned before walking up to the man she had indicated and asked,

“Excuse me. Excuse me. There was a box. Big blue box. Big blue wooden box, just over there. Where’s it gone?”

The stallholder beamed with joy as he said, “Sold it, didn’t I?”

The Doctor’s mouth opened in shock as he stuttered, “But it wasn’t yours to sell!”

The stallholder glanced at the Doctor with a gleam in his eye as he said, “It was on my patch, weren’t it? I got 15 sesterces for it. Lovely jubbly.”

The Doctor pressed on asking, “Who’d you sell it to?”

The stallholder, quickly getting tired of the situation, said,

“Old Caecilius. Look, if you want to argue, why don’t you take it out with him? He’s on Foss Street. Big villa. Can’t miss it.”

The Doctor then answered with, “Thanks.”

And as he neared Donna and Iris, he muttered, “What’d he buy a big blue wooden box for?”

Iris had to hold in her laughter, thinking of the Doctor’s future regeneration, as she muttered, “Modern Art.”

Donna heard the answer and laughed, making the Doctor grumble in frustration. As they were walking around looking for Foss Street, the Donna said,

“What about the people? I found this big sort of amphitheater thing. We can start there. We can gather everyone together. Maybe they’ve got a great big bell or something we could ring. Have they invented bells yet?”

Iris froze and tensed up, which did not unnoticed by the Doctor. He realized that Iris not only knew what was supposed to happen, but how, and it must be pretty serious. She didn’t seem fearful of the situation at hand, but more nervous about it. But not quite getting where Donna was going with the bell idea, he asked,

“What do you want a bell for?”

Donna looked at him with a serious look on her face as she said,

“To warn everyone. Start the evacuation. What time does Vesuvius erupt? When’s it due?”

Iris answered, “It’s 79AD, 23rd of August, which makes volcano day tomorrow. And Donna… we can’t get the people out of Pompeii.”

Donna looked at the girl and asked, “Why not? It’s what you two do. You’re the Doctor, and you’re Iris. You save people.”

The two people of interest looked at each other warily, not sure how to approach this in a gentler manner. The Doctor started first,

“Not this time. Pompeii is a fixed point in history. What happens, happens. There is no stopping it.”

Donna’s eyes began to tear up in slow realization as she angrily asked, “Says who?”

Iris wanted to interrupt this conversation but she found that she couldn’t. Donna needed to know. The Doctor quickly responded with,

“Says me.”

Donna then asked, “Iris, are you fine with this? You know that we got to do something.”

Iris looked at the companion with a look that silenced Donna immediately. There seemed to be a deep sadness in her eyes that Donna couldn’t quite grasp the depth of.

“Donna… I wish we could do something about it… but this… just like the Doctor said, it’s a fixed point in time. I know what you’re feeling. I wish we could save the people around us. I don’t want them to die, and neither does the Doctor. I know how this ends Donna, and sometimes, I wish I didn’t. I wish I could be like you and demand for this to be different. But know this, not everyone needs to die.”

The Doctor felt something stir in Iris. As she had continued to talk, he felt a stronger determination grow in her. Almost as if she was making a promise to herself. And as if noting this too Donna didn’t retort back, but followed them in deep thoughts herself, noting the last part of Iris’ speech.

Not everyone needs to die.

It was a hint. Donna’s eyes widened and looked at Iris, who had been watching her the entire time. The little smirk on her face indicated something. Even if they couldn’t save everyone, they were able to save someone. Relief flowed through Donna and she smiled a bit.

Donna then looked at the Doctor, to realize that he hadn’t noted the hint that Iris had slipped into the speech. She rolled her eyes and followed him to find this Caecilius.

When they approached a villa, the trio felt the ground shake and heard a man yell, “Positions!”

Iris’ eyes widened in excitement, hearing the raspy voice of the man. Although this man wasn’t the Doctor, she always thought that this adventure must have deeply affected the man if he regenerated into this person’s form. As the ground shook more, a marble bust fell from its location and the Doctor quickly grabbed onto it an said,

“Whoa! There you go.”

Caecilius warily studied the man before him as he responded with,

“Thank you, kind sir. I’m afraid business is closed for the day. I’m expecting a visitor.”

The Doctor smiled as he said, “But that’s me. I’m a visitor. Hello.”

Caecilius frowned as he looked him up and down as he asked, “Who are you?”

The Doctor smirked and replied, “I am Spartacus.”

Donna joined in with, “And so am I.”

Iris shook her head and said, “I’m Iris.”

Caecilius studied the smaller woman in front of him and then the pair as he seemed to get a grasp of their relationship as he blurted out,

“Mister and Mrs. Spartacus with their servant Iris?”

The Doctor looked aghast as he responded with, “Oh no, no no. We’re not, we’re not married.”

Iris calmly responded with, “Excuse me? A servant?”

Donna felt a chill go down her spine and saw Caecilius swallow with fear in his eyes. The calm question felt threatening to all of them.

“Sorry. I must have mistaken.” Caecilius said with the utmost sincerity.

Iris nodded and huffed, still annoyed at how quickly the man had come up with that assumption. Feeling her annoyance, the Doctor sighed when Caecilius said,

“So then, are you to brother and sister then? Yes, of course. You look very much alike.”

Iris laughed out loud at that statement while the Doctor and Donna studied each other with doubt clearly written in their faces. Seeing them try to see any type of resemblance in each other, Iris laughed even harder.

Caeilius ignored Iris’ laughter, and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not open for trade.”

Iris then immediately sobered up as much as she could while the Doctor asked, “And that trade would be?”

Caecilius replied, “Marble. Lopus Caecilius. Mining, polishing and design thereof. If you want marble, I’m your man.”

The Doctor nodded and smiled again as he said,

“That’s good, because I’m the marble inspector.”

The Time Lord flashed his psychic paper when Metella walked in with surprise.

“By the gods of commerce, an inspection. I’m sorry, sir. I do apologize for my son.”

With that, Iris noticed Metella pour Quintus’ wine into the pool of water. Quintus looked at Iris with a look of exasperation. He then paused, took a better look at her, and then winked. Iris, surprised at the outright flirting the man had done, looked around and noticed that the Doctor and Donna were talking with Caecilius, leaving her alone to see this.

When she looked back at Quintus, she noticed that he smirked. But what Iris didn’t know was that the Doctor, despite talking with Caecilius, had seen everything and felt a slight tinge of anger. Surprised by his own sense of disapproval of the boy’s forwardness, he tried to quell it down.

Meanwhile, Iris just shook her head when a man announced someone’s arrival.

“Announcing Lucius Petrus Dextrus, Chief Augur of the City Government.”

With that Iris stepped closer to the Doctor, not liking the aura the man held around him. Sensing her discomfort, the Doctor grabbed her hand to comfort her a bit. Caecilius walked towards the augur with deference as he said,

“Lucius. My pleasure, as always. A rare and great honour, sir, for you to come to my house.”

In the background Metella was scolding her son when Lucius said,

“The birds are flying north, and the wind in the west.”

Caecilius nodded his head as he said, “Quite. Absolutely. That’s good, is it?”

Lucius just looked at him with something akin to dislike as he said, “Only the grain of wehat knows where it will grow.”

Caecilius, almost as if he was starstruck, said to his wife,

“There, now Metella. Have you ever heard such wisdom?”

Metella responded with “Never. It’s an honor.”

Caecilius then introduced the three time travelers, saying, “Pardon me sir. I have guests This is Spartacus and, er Spartacus with Iris.”

Lucius studied them warily, his eyes stopping at Iris, studying her with intensity as he said,

“A name is but a cloud upon a summer wind.”

The Doctor responded with, “But the wind is felt most keenly in the dark.”

Lucius glanced at the Doctor with hidden amusement as he responded with, “Ah, but what is the dark, other than an omen of the sun?”

The Doctor continued with, “I conceded that every sun must set.”

Lucius scoffed at that when the Doctor added, “And yet the soon of the father must also rise.”

Lucius studied the Doctor again, a bit more carefully this time as he said,

“Damn. Very clever, sir. Evidently a man of learning.”

The Doctor nodded as he said, “Oh, yes. But don’t mind me. Don’t want to disturb the status quo.”

Caecilius whispered to Lucius, “He’s Celtic.” To which, Iris rolled her eyes.

The Doctor just ignored it and said, “We’ll be off in a minute.”

Donna looked up at Iris and the Doctor as she said, “I’m not going.”

After the statement Iris had provided her, she didn’t really want to leave the family she had grown a bit attached to. If someone was going to be saved, it should be them. Then suddenly, Caecilius said,

“It’s ready sir.”

And Iris tugged on the Doctor’s hand, which still held hers, to grab his attention. The Time Lord looked at where Iris indicated and paid attention. Caecilius neared a stone tile carved as a circuit board and then to Iris, who nodded. This was why they couldn’t quite leave yet.

They heard Caecilius say, “Exactly as you specified. It pleases you, sir?”

Lucian looked at the tile and replied, “As the rain pleases the soil.”

The Doctor’s curiosity flared as he came up closer and asked, “Where’d you get the pattern?”

Lucian carefully responded with, “On the rain and mist and wind.”

Donna frowned as she whispered to Iris, “But that looks like a circuit.”

Iris looked up at Donna and said, “It is a part of it.”

Donna’s eyes widened in realization when the Doctor was interrupted by Evelina, who, in a trance, said,

“They’re laughing at us. Those three, they use words like tricksters. They’re mocking us.”

Surprised by such a statement, the Doctor immediately said,

“No, no I’m not. I meant no offence.”

Metella quickly walked towards the younger girl and said, “I’m sorry. My daughter’s been consuming the vapors.”

Iris frowned at that, noticing how pale Evelina appeared when Quintus came up beside her and said,

“Oh for gods, Mother. What have you been doing to her?”

Caecilius shook his head as he hissed, “Not now, Quintus.”

Iris looked at how distraught Quintus appeared as the worry for his sister overtook his features. She patted his shoulder to let him know in some way that it would be alright. But Lucius joined into the conversation as he said,

“I gather I have a rival in this household. Another with the gift.”

Metella looked at Evelina’s sickly form with proud as she said, “Oh, she’s been promised to the Sybiline Sisterhood. They say she has remarkable visions.”

Iris scoffed at that while Lucian responded,

“The prophecies of women are limited and dull. Only the menfolk have the capacity for true perception.”

Donna, angered by such a statement, said, “I’ll tell you where the wind’s blowing right now, mate.”

Iris stopped Donna from stomping over there as Lucius said,

“The Mountain God marks your words. I’d be careful, if I were you.”

The Doctor looked at Evelina as he said with concern, “Consuming the vapors you say?”

Evelina answered with a small smile, “They give me strength.”

The Doctor shook his head as he said, “It doesn’t look like it to me.”

Evelina then, still in a trance responded with, “Is that your opinion as a doctor?”

Surprised by that, the Time Lord asked warily, “How did you know that?”

But ignoring the question, Evelina looked at Donna and said, “And you. You call yourself Noble.”

Metella, shocked by the sudden statement, said “Now then, Evelina, Don’t be rude.”

The Doctor stopped Metella’s scolding by saying, “No, no, no, no. Let her talk.”

Evelina then looked at Iris, then frowned, and just opted to saying, “You three come from so far away.”

But the three people had noticed Evelina’s change in expression when Evelina had tried to study Iris. Why didn’t she say anything about her? But Lucius interrupted their thoughts as he said,

“The female soothsayer is inclined to invent all sorts of vagaries.”

Iris shook her had as she responded with, “Oh, not this time Lucius.”

The Doctor continued with, “No, I reckon you’ve been out-soothsayed.”

Lucius frowned and said, “Is that so, man from Gallifrey?”

The Doctor froze at that and he whispered, “What?”

Iris noticed the Doctor’s hand tighten his grip on hers, almost stopping the blood from flowing. If it hurt, Iris didn’t say much. Lucius continued to speak,

“The strangest of images. Yours is lost in fire, is it not?”

The Doctor tensed even further. Donna, noticing the tiniest bit of the Oncoming Storm in the Doctor’s eyes, asked, “Doctor, Iris, what are they doing?”

Lucius then put his attention on her as he said, “And you, daughter of London.”

Donna gasped as she asked, “How does he know that?”

Lucius then responded, while slowly turning his gaze towards Iris again,

“This is the gift of Pompeii. Every single oracle tells the truth.”

Donna whispered out, “That’s impossible.”

But then it became Iris’ turn to freeze as her blood ran cold at Lucius’ next words.

“And you, daughter of the Void. The one who is feared even by those from Gallifrey. The very figure of the legend from the Neverpeople. You, Iris Kim, will end all of time and space.”

Iris looked at Lucius with utter horror. The only thing that led her to think of when it came to legends from the Neverpeople was one person she did not want to think about.

Zagreus

But the Doctor, not quite sure he heard it correctly, demanded an answer, “What? What do you mean?”

Donna, on the other hand, didn’t believe it and said, “You lie. Iris would never be the person you are talking about.”

But Lucius ignored them and looked at Iris, saying, “You understand to whom I am referencing, do you not? You, who hold all knowledge of time and space.”

Iris looked at the man with overwhelming fear and dread as she couldn’t do anything but nod. Seeing this, the Doctor frowned immediately and shook his head,

“No, this isn’t right. Iris isn’t that type of person.”

But Lucius ignored that statement and looked back at the Doctor as he said, “Doctor, she is returning.”

And as if it burned her hand, Iris let go of the Doctor’s hand. Rose. Lucius was talking about Rose Tyler. It shouldn’t bother her too much, but for some reason, it did.

The Doctor frowned at the lack of contact but he asked warily, “Who is? Who’s she?”

Then he glanced at Iris, who had paled considerably, still feeling the dread from the statement Lucius had made earlier. But then, Lucius turned to Donna again and said, “And you, daughter of London. There is something on your back.”

Iris head began to reel in shock and fear as her turn came back and Lucius stepped up to her and looked her in the eyes as he said,

“And for you, Iris. He will come for you once more. And you can do nothing to stop it. You will submit.”

And with that statement, Iris remembered the voice she heard when Suzy Costello had momentarily killed her. Rassilon.

“No…” was all Iris whispered out, and the world became blurry as tears slipped out.

Then a deep, familiar pain hit her mind as Evelina said something to the Doctor. The pain then spread throughout her mind and body as haunting images took over Iris. In the next few seconds, the Doctor heard something he didn’t want to hear ever again: Iris’ agonizing scream. He then suddenly saw in his mind of a flash of a silhouette of a woman with short, curled hair stepping into a blinding light. But as the woman began to turn around to face him, the vision quickly ended. When he finally managed to turn around to see Iris, he saw her fall to the ground, unconscious. Donna grabbed onto the girl and looked up at him with fear. What was happening to her?

For a moment, the Doctor froze at the vision. It had come through their bond and it had filled him with an unforeseen fear. When Donna called out to him once more, the Doctor took Iris’ limp form gently and studied her. She was physically fine, but the bond he shared with her felt as if it had become all jumbled up. It felt chaotic. Not only that, her mind had now shut him out. However, as his worry was about to grow, he felt her move.

The Doctor looked down and saw Iris wake up. When Iris managed to open her eyes, she saw the Doctor looking down at her with concern. She tried to smile a little to ease his and Donna’s panic. When they didn’t ease their frowns, she said,

“Hello.”

The Doctor sighed out of relief as he said, “Are you alright?”

Iris nodded and got up with the help of the Doctor as he seated her in the nearest chair.

“Sit here for a bit.”

With that, she complied, not really feeling up to arguing. Suddenly she saw a goblet in front of her face and looked up again to find Quintus holding a goblet of water for her.

“You might need this.”

Iris smiled at him gratefully and sipped at the water as she stared at the Doctor, who began to study the hypocaust. The Time Lord immediately began to question Caecilius.

“Different sort of hypocaust?”

Caecilius proudly said,

“Oh, yes. We’re very advanced in Pompeii. In Rome, they’re still using the old wood-burning furnaces, but we’ve got hot springs, leading from Vesuvius itself.”

The Doctor looked up with curiosity as he asked, “Who thought of that?”

Caecilius looked at him as if the man was just ignorant as he responded with,

“The soothsayers, after the great earthquake, 17 years ago. An awful lot of damage. But we rebuilt.”

The Doctor then further questioned Caecilius while Quintus asked Iris,

“You lot aren’t really inspectors are you?”

Iris looked at the boy with surprise as she asked raising an eyebrow, “Why do you ask?”

Quintus shrugged his shoulders and said,

“Well, your clothes for a start. It’s just weird. Also, something in how you and the other woman look at the Doctor. It’s like you guys revere him.”

Iris looked at him and cautiously asked, “I do?”

Quintus just hummed as a response when suddenly the Doctor walked over as he tapped the boy,

“Quintus, me old son. This Lucius Petrus Dextrus. Where does he live?”

Quintus shrugged, irked at the man as he responded, “It’s nothing to do with me.”

The Doctor disbelievingly looked at Iris. Iris rolled her eyes and then tapped Quintus’ shoulder to make him look at her as she asked nicely,

“Please? We would like to meet him one more time. Here, I can answer your other question if you take us there.”

Quintus gave her a sidelong glance and then groaned as he let his curiosity get the better of him and lead the Doctor and Iris over to Lucius’ villa. Once they arrived, Quintus looked at Iris and then the Doctor as he said,

“Don’t tell my Dad.”

Iris smirked at him and said, “Never.”

The Doctor added, “Only if you don’t tell mine.”

And with that, the Doctor jumped into the villa and helped Iris in. Since she was considerably shorter than they all liked, Quintus had to hoist her up a little while the Doctor pulled her in. Iris just grumbled about how she was being treated like a baby at the moment as she was pulled in, making the Doctor chuckle at her.

Once she stood back up, Quintus had already jumped in after her and then looked at a curtain before pulling it down. When the fallen curtain had revealed a myriad of marble tiles, Quintus hissed out,

“The liar. He told my father it was the only one.”

The Doctor shrugged as he said, “Well, plenty of marble merchants in this town. Tell them all the same thing, get all the components from different places, so no one can see what you’re building.”

Quintus whispered out, “Which is what?”

Then the trio turned jumped as Lucius’ voice rang out, “The future, Doctor. We are building the future, as dictated by the gods.”

Iris snapped at Lucius, not liking the man. “That future and gods you contact are not the true gods. How cannot you see it?”

Lucius yelled at her, “Blasphemy! You-”

But the Doctor grabbed Lucius’ attention when he began quickly rearranging the circuit boards. Lucius stopped talking immediately and watched. The Doctor muttered,

“Put this one there. This one there. Er, keep that one upside down, and what you got?”

Lucius responded with, “Enlighten me.”

Iris scoffed as she asked, “What, the soothsayer doesn’t know?”

Lucius glared at her as he said, “The seed may float on the breeze in any direction.”

Iris rolled her eyes as she continued to say the Doctor’s lines as the Time Lord watched Iris get angrier at Lucius with concern.

“Yeah, I knew you were going to say that. But it’s an energy converter.”

Lucius frowned as he asked, “An energy converter of what?”

The Doctor interrupted as he said,

“I don’t know. Isn’t that brilliant? I love not knowing. Keeps me on my toes. It must be awful being a prophet, waking up every morning, is it raining? Yes, it is, I said so. Takes all the fun out of life. But who designed this, Lucius, hmm? Who gave you these instructions?”

Lucius glared at the trio as he said, “I think you’ve babbled enough.”

The Doctor looked at the man as he said, “Lucius, really, tell me. Honestly, I’m on your side. I can help.”

Iris bit her lower lip as she prevented herself from laughing darkly. She could feel the Doctor feel confusion at her attitude, concern for her well-being from her loss of consciousness from earlier and disapproval of her dislike towards the prophet.

Quintus looked at Iris and then the Doctor as he wasn’t sure what to say. He just wanted to get out of the place. Something about Lucius didn’t seem right.

Lucius then specifically looked at Iris as he exclaimed,

“You insult the gods. There can be only one sentence. At arms.”

The guards nearby quickly drew their swords and Quintus backed towards the window immediately.

The Doctor whispered towards Iris, “Oh, morituri te salutant.”

Iris glared at him as if saying, ‘Is this really the right time for that?’ while the prophet said,

“Celtic prayers won’t help you now.”

Quintus tugged on Iris’ arm as he indicated towards the window that they came in through. He didn’t want to leave Iris alone. Something about her let him trust her.

The Doctor then responded to Lucius, saying, “I respect your victory, Lucius. Shake on it? Come on, dying man’s wish?”

Iris jumped a little as the Doctor leaped over to Lucius and pulled off the man’s stone arm. Lucius exclaimed in pain while Quintus couldn’t believe his eyes.

“But he’s…”

The Doctor immediately demanded, “Show me.”

With that, Lucius revealed his now calcified right arm. Iris winced at the sight, not believing how wrong it looked on a human. And when Lucius claimed that it had been the work of the gods, she wished she was nowhere near the man.

Quintus whispered out in shock, “He’s stone.”

The Doctor then said, “Armless enough, though,”

Iris glared at the Doctor again, making him wince as he said, “Whoops.”

Then Iris grabbed the arm and chucked it at Lucius as she yelled

“Quintus!”

With that, the torch flew across the room while the Doctor sonicked the circuit boards, causing them to fall. As Lucius screamed, “The carvings!” the trio ran out the villa and ran as quickly as they could.

As they ran, Quintus yelled, “You owe me an answer!”

Iris looked over and said, “The future!”

“What?!” Quintus yelled again, not sure he heard it correctly as they slowed down.

Iris panted as she said, “We’re from the future.”

Quintus’ eyes bulged at that and then the awe died down as he then realized something. Iris noticed this and her facial expression softened, wishing she could comfort him. The Doctor though, missed this entire interaction as he said,

“No sign of them. Nice little bit of allonsy. I think we’re alright.”

Quintus cut in with, “But his arm, Doctor. Is that what’s happening to Evelina?”

Iris answered him with, “Yes… I’m sorry. But don’t worry, we’ll fix this… the best way we can.”

Quintus looked at her as he saw the determination behind the promise. But her eyes also looked sad and full of regret. He wanted to ask her what was wrong when a dog began to bark.

The Doctor asked, “What was that?”

Iris swore as she yelled, “Footsteps… underground. We have to go! Hurry!”

With that, she grabbed the Doctor’s hand in one and Quintus’ hand in the other as they ran back to Caecilius’ villa. When they arrived, Iris yelled,

“Caecilius? All of you, get out. There’s something dangerous coming this way.”

Donna came out as she asked, “Iris? What is it?”

The Doctor followed up with, “I think we’re being followed.”

But Iris was ahead as she grabbed the nearest bucket and filled it up with water. Just as she was coming back, the hypocaust grill flew off and everyone nearby jumped in fear. The Doctor saw the creature come up and halted Iris as he said,

“Talk to me. That’s all I want. Talk to me. Just tell me who you are Don’t hurt these people. Talk to me. I’m the Doctor. Just tell me who you are.”

Then Iris threw the water, which was also done by Quintus, who had been watching her, ready with his own bucket of water with other servants. When the creature crumbled to the floor, Caecilius came out from his hiding spot as he asked fearfully,

“What was it?”

The Doctor turned around and responded with, “Carapace of stone, held together by internal magma. Not too difficult to stop, but I reckon that’s just the foot soldier.”

Iris gasped and looked around for Donna, but then saw a single bucket on the floor, water spilled everywhere and she cursed to herself. Donna had been taken by the Sisterhood.

“Doctor?” Iris called out.

The Doctor immediately came up to her to see what she had found. He looked back at her for confirmation of Donna’s disappearance and she said, “The Sisterhood. They have her.”

The Doctor grimaced and quickly grabbed Iris’ hand as they began to run towards the temple. When they got close enough, Iris and the Doctor heard Spurrina say,

“This prattling voice will cease forever.”

Laughing out loud, the Doctor walked out with Iris as he said, “Oh, that’ll be the day. Ow!”

The Doctor yelped as Iris elbowed him on his side. She wasn’t really enjoying his joke. Spurrina glowered at the Doctor as she exclaimed,

“No man is allowed to enter the Temple of Sibyl.”

Iris tried to hold her laughter in as the Doctor said, “Well, that’s alright. Just us girls. Do you know, I met the Sibyl once. Yeah, hell of a woman. Blimey, she could dance the Tarantella. Nice teeth.”

Iris frowned at that and let go of the Doctor’s hand. Eventually a picture rose into her mind and she made a gagging motion, trying to make Donna laugh. The Doctor rolled his eyes as he continued to talk,

“Truth be told, I think she had a bit of a thing for me. I said it would never last. She said, I know. Well, she would. You alright there?”

Donna sarcastically bit out, “Oh, never better.”

Iris neared the woman as she said, “I like the toga.”

Donna smiled and asked, “Thank you. And the ropes?”

Iris shook her head as she said, “Yeah, not so much.”

The Doctor smiled and used his sonic screwdriver to cut Donna free from her ropes. Rolling her eyes, Donna just shook her head realizing how Iris and the Doctor were almost in sync with each other at this point.

The priestess however, did not looked surprised as she yelled out, “What magic is this?”

The Doctor ignored her as he said,

“Let me tell you about the Sibyl, the founder of this religion. She would be ashamed of you. All her wisdom and insight tuned sour. Is that how you spread the word, hey? On the blade of a knife?”

The last bit was mentioned as Spurrina, as her name was revealed, pointed the knife towards Iris and the Doctor. She exclaimed,

“Yes, a knife that now welcomes you.”

But before anything could be done, a voice from behind a set of curtains weakly bellowed,

“Show me this man and woman.”

Iris raised her eyebrows when Spurrina responded with, “High Priestess, the strangers would defile us.”

The Doctor’s jaw clenched slightly at the comment but he ignored Spurrina as the High Priestess said,

“Let me see. They are different. He carries starlight in his wake while she carries a message that has not and has happened. A symbol of hope.”

Iris’ eyes widened, but she didn’t comment as the Doctor said,

“Oh, very perceptive. Where do these words of wisdom come from?”

The High priestess said, “The gods whisper to me.”

Then Iris spoke up, making sure she said everything as if the Doctor would.

“They’ve don far more than that. Might I beg audience? Look upon the High Priestess?”

When the curtains were removed, Donna immediately gasped while Iris tried to keep her best pokerface on. It was difficult to look at as the person had entirely become calcified. Donna exclaimed,

“Oh my God, what’s happened to you?”

Iris and the Doctor looked at the companion with sad, knowing eyes while the High Priestess replied with,

“The heavens have blessed me.”

The Doctor then gently went up to her and asked, “If I might?” Indicating to the High Priestess about examining her physical state. Consenting to it, the High Priestess held out her hand for the Doctor to touch. He gently applied pressure to it and asked,

“Does it hurt?”

He could feel the concern and a familiar sadness emanate from Iris through their bond. He was surprised by how his companions were concerned more about the woman’s well-being. The priestess however replied darkly with,

“It is necessary.”

Iris whispered, “who told you that?”

The priestess moved her head to look at Iris as she responded with, “The voices.”

Donna joined in, concern all over her voice, “Is that what’s going to happen to Evelina? Is this what’s going to happen to all of you?”

With that the priestess Spurrina showed the trio her calcifying arm as she said, “The blessings are manifold.”

Iris tried her best to hide her grimace as the Doctor and the High Priestess continued their discussion. As the priestesses in the room began to chant altogether, Iris headed towards the grill and started working on it, bringing Donna with her.

“Why are we opening the grill?” Donna asked.

Iris smirked a little as she said, “Esape route. The hot way.”

Donna just looked at her like a deer did to headlights as Iris managed to get it open. Suddenly, they heard the Doctor ramble,

“Okay, so 17 years ago, you woke up, and now you’re using human bodies to reconstitute yourselves. But why the psychic powers?”

The Pyrovile-controlled High Priestess responded with, “We opened their minds and found such gifts.”

As Iris managed to get a very confused Donna to get down the grill, she waited for the Doctor to finish his rambling.

“Okay, that’s fine. So you force yourself inside a human brain, use the latent psychic talent to bond. I get that, I get that, yeah. But seeing the future? That is way beyond psychic. You can see through time. Where does the gift of prophecy come from?”

“Doctor!” Iris hissed as she started to get down the grill, careful not to close it behind her. The Doctor still had his water pistol on him when he inched towards Iris as he asked,

“Why can’t this lot predict a volcano? Why is it being hidden?”

Suddenly, Spurrina cried out, “Sisters, I see into his mind! The weapon is harmless.”

Iris swore under her breath as the Doctor nonchalantly said, “Yeah, but it’s got to sting.” With that, he squirted some water at the High Priestess before joining Iris on their way down the hypocaust.

Donna smiled widely as she exclaimed, “You fought her off with a water pistol. I bloody love you.”

Iris just rolled her eyes as she grabbed Donna and Doctor’s hands and dragged them after her as she said, “We’re going down into the volcano. Now hurry up!”

Donna’s eyes widened in excitement as she said, “No way.”

The Doctor saw her response and smiled as he said, “Yes, way. Appian way.”

Iris sighed at the joke and continued to drag them down the hypocaust. As they were heading down, Donna suddenly asked,

“But if it’s aliens setting off the volcano, doesn’t that make it all right for you to stop it?”

The Doctor’s jaw tightened as they got back to the topic of saving everyone while he said, “Still part of history.”

Iris turned around and hurriedly said, “Donna, some things are unfortunately fixed points in time while others are in flux. Pompeii is fixed. We cannot do anything to change it unless we want to destroy the entire future and universe.”

Donna looked fearful about how harmful it would have been to change the events at Pompeii and whispered out, “How do you two know which is which?”

Iris and the Doctor paused and looked at each other. The Doctor sighed as he turned around to look at her cautiously while he said, “Because that’s how I see the universe. Every waking second, I can see what is, what was, what could be, what must not. That’s the burden of a Time Lord, Donna. And I’m the only one left.”

Donna looked at Iris then, who followed up with,

“I don’t see it the way the Doctor does. Donna, there’s something you have to know about me. I’m not from this universe. I not only came from a parallel universe like this one, but I come from the future in which there are no real aliens but just a show. A show called Doctor Who. This is the show. I fell through universes into a world that should have been fictional for me.”

Donna looked at her as if she was insane at first and then asked, “So I’m not real in your universe?”

Iris shook her head as she smiled sadly while saying, “You’re so real Donna Noble. But your parallel universe self is a famous comedian and actress. A legend. I was your fan! Before falling through universes. You have no idea how happy I am to be able to meet you!”

Donna felt overwhelmed that someone was her fan and smiled in joy. Despite the heat exhausting her, Iris’ words made her happy. But immediately, her joy died out as she remembered the discussion they were having. She asked quietly,

“Doctor, Iris… how many people died?”

Iris’ eyes reflected grief as she said, “Twenty thousand.”

Donna then asked, “Is that what you both see? All twenty thousand?”

The duo nodded at the new companion and eventually started to head deeper into the volcano. Eventually, they reached the cavern and the Doctor commented,

“It’s the heart of Vesuvius. We’re right inside the mountain.”

Iris looked around as the heat was becoming unbearable. She hated overwhelming amounts of heat and yet here she was, inside Pompeii’s volcano. Absolutely fantastic. The Doctor gave her a sidelong glance while smirking a little He had noticed how irritated and sarcastic she was becoming due to feeling uncomfortable. Donna on the other hand, looked fearfully at the Pyroviles as she said,

“There’s tons of them.”

Iris patted Donna’s shoulder in a comforting manner while she said, “Oi Doctor, can we quickly head over to the little thing that might be an escape pod?”

Donna then asked, “But why do they need a volcano? Maybe it erupts, and they launch themselves back into space or something?”

Iris shook her head, knowing what was going to eventually happen when Lucius spoke up to them.

“Heathens defile us. They would desecrate your temple, my lord gods.”

“Oh please” Iris muttered in annoyance as she wanted to head towards the pod instead of hearing Lucius’ voice any longer. But the Doctor and the two women had reached the pod. As they stopped right outside of the pod, the Doctor tried to open the door while Lucius commanded,

“Crush them. Burn them.”

Iris felt her heartbeat get faster as a Pyrovile began to walk towards them. Without thinking much, she grabbed the water pistol from the Doctor and extinguished it. The Doctor spared a glance towards her in worry before resuming his work back on unlocking the door. Lucius then spoke again,

“There is nowhere to run, Doctor, daughter of London, and daughter of the Void.”

The Doctor frowned as he responded with, “Now then, Lucius. My lords Pyrovilian, don’t get yourselves in a lather. In a lava? No?”

He glanced back with a slight smirk towards Iris and Donna. Donna just looked at the Doctor in disbelief, not understanding how he could possibly be joking at this moment. She looked towards Iris, who grimaced and shook her head with dislike.

Not really getting the reaction he wanted, the Doctor pouted as he continued with,

“No. But if I might beg the wisdom of the gods before we perish. Once this new race of creatures is complete, then what?”

Lucius responded with a sickening tone of admiration, “My masters will follow the examples of Rome itself. An almighty empire, bestriding the whole of civilization.”

Donna, not quite understanding the situation just like the Doctor, asked,

“But if you’ve crashed and you’ve got all this technology, why don’t you just go home?”

Iris’s face fell as she knew the answer to that. She looked at Donna before masking her emotions. It wasn’t time yet. Donna was still here. That was all that mattered. Lucius and the Doctor talked a bit more while Iris decided that this was enough and walked to grab the sonic screwdriver from the Doctor to open the escape pod herself.

When she finally managed to open the door, she pushed Donna inside first before grabbing the Doctor’s arm and pulling him inside with her. Once they were all inside, the Doctor closed the door with the sonic screwdriver.

The Doctor looked at Iris carefully. She had known this was all about to happen. She also knew more about the bigger picture that was taking place, but despite that, she seemed intent on setting up a program. Through their bond, he felt a tinge of guilt flow through and he wasn’t sure what she had in mind.

He was broken from his observations when Donna asked, “Could we be any more trapped?”

It was true, the three of them were squished together inside the pod and there was barely any space for them to move. Donna was on one side of the pod while the Doctor was on the other, squishing Iris between them effectively.

But as Donna was about to remark on something, Iris swore out loud as she muttered,

“The energy converter here is taking the lava, using it to create power for making a fusion matrix that would weld Pyroviles to humans… It’s already complete, I can’t change it.”

The Doctor swallowed thickly as he realized out loud, “They can now convert millions…”

Donna looked horrified as she asked, “But can’t you change it with these controls? Both of you are tech savvy!”

Iris’ face fell into utter sadness while the Doctor whispered, “Of course we can, but don’t you see? That’s why the soothsayers couldn’t see the volcano. There is no volcano. Vesuvius was never going to erupt. The Pyroviles are stealing all its power. They’re going to use it to take over the world.”

Donna, with trepidation, asked, “But you can change it back?”

Iris nodded as she stood up from the controls as she answered, “We can invert the system, set off the volcano, and blow them up…But that’s become our choice now Donna.”

The Doctor finished her statement with, “It’s Pompeii or the world.”

Donna looked at both of them, seeing how heartbroken the two adventurers were. Donna noticed how the Doctor had a more grim and determined look in his eyes while Iris seemed to be fighting demons.

It haunted her to see the stark difference and the fact that she was about to end up sacrificing a lot of people to save the world settled in as she whispered out, “Oh my God.”

The Doctor ground out, “If Pompeii is destroyed then it’s not just history, it’s me. I make it happen.”

Donna looked at Iris, who seemed to know her question as she said, “Vesuvius explodes with the force of 24 nuclear bombs. Nothing can survive it.”

Donna let her tears fall freely as she smiled weakly while saying, “Never mind us.”

Iris smiled back and hugged her as the Doctor said, “Push this lever and it’s over. 20,000 people.”

Donna looked at Iris again, hoping that at least they could save someone that day, and Iris nodded ever so lightly that the Doctor had missed it while Donna hadn’t. With that, Donna and Iris put their hands over the Doctor’s own, pushing the button altogether.

Iris wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The escape pod jerked up and Iris felt a knot in her stomach as gravity began working its job as the escape pod soon enough began to fall from the sky after Vesuvius had erupted. She was squished between the Doctor and Donna. Donna had grabbed onto her, somehow expecting Iris to keep her grounded while the Doctor had wrapped is arms around her as if to protect her.

Through their bond, Iris sent out various alarms of discomfort and fear. Iris was never comfortable with the sensation of falling in any type of machinery, especially in roller coasters. And falling from a great height of a mountain inside a pod wasn’t helping her with her fear.

The Doctor noticed that pangs of fear and tried to calm Iris through their bond. But for some reason, he couldn’t calm down either as he was hearing Donna’s screams and feeling Iris’s fear.

When they all fell on top of each other the moment the pod crashed onto the ground, Iris jerked up and ran out, feeling terribly claustrophobic. She grabbed Donna’s hand and helped the woman up, before the trio began to run to find the TARDIS. As they were running, the ash from the volcano fell down on the town. The streets were crowded with terrified people and Iris couldn’t stop the feeling of guilt rise up in her. Not only for the people here, but for what she had planned to do. Donna tried to help a little boy, but his mother had quickly picked him up before running for some type of escape from the disaster. But the Doctor became impatient as he gabbed Donna and ran back to where the TARDIS was.

They arrived at the villa to find Caecilius with his family in the corner. Iris slid towards the family while the Doctor was distracted and had pulled Donna and himself into the TARDIS. Iris heard Donna scream out, “No! Wait, Doc-” before the doors closed. Caecilius looked at Iris in shock and she went up to them as she said,

“Don’t worry. He will be back. If not, he would have to. If not, I would find my way to him and kick his arse for you.”

Caecilius looked at Iris with the same look of shock, but nodded silently, holding onto his family tighter as they shook in fright. Something in her eyes seemed to quell a little bit of his fear, a warm feeling of courage washed over him. He trusted her. Something in her eyes gave him that comfort. What the people still on Pompeii were not aware of was what kind of argument that those in the TARDIS were having.

Donna had noticed at the list minute that Iris was not on the TARDIS and had begun to yell at the Doctor about it.

“You can’t just leave them!”

The Doctor however, was in such a rage that he yelled out,

“Don’t you think I’ve done enough? History’s back in place and everyone dies.”

Donna gripped the Doctor and shook him with her might as she said,

“You’ve got to go back. Doctor, I am telling you, take this thing back! This isn’t fair! Iris is still there!”

The Doctor froze and stared at Donna with his eyes wide as saucers. His mind was racing and he finally looked around the console room. And to his disbelief, Donna was right. Iris hadn’t stepped onto the TARDIS. He quickly reached out to Iris through his bond and winced as he met Iris’s anger towards him seep through. He understood why she was angry. It wasn’t because she was left behind, but because he hadn’t listened to Donna. The message that his new companion was telling him.

Donna just looked at him and whispered,

“Just someone. Please. Not the whole town. Just save someone.”

The Doctor looked back at Donna, briefly coming out of his thoughts and then quickly went back to the console to reset the destination to Pompeii.

Iris was standing outside, still having her back face Caecilius and his family. She was growing impatient and worry was starting to show in her features. Why did it take him this long? But then, she heard the familiar noise of the TARDIS as she materialized. Smiling, she hurriedly helped Caecilius and his family up and when the door to the TARDIS opened, the family gaped as the Doctor said,

“Come with me.”

Caecilius looked towards Iris, who nodded enthusiastically. He hesitantly reached out his hand to grab the Doctor’s and then was pulled inside the TARDIS. His family quickly followed as they were pushed inside the TARDIS by Iris. But as Iris entered the TARDIS, the Doctor quickly closed the door and walked past her. Iris felt how furious the Doctor was and winced. He was beyond furious. Iris didn’t really understand as to why, but her smile slightly dropped.

When the Doctor parked the TARDIS on a hillside, Caecilius and his family were dropped off safely. Donna muttered a thank you and retired to her room. Iris stayed back, sensing that the Doctor wanted to talk to her.

“Why…” was all he whispered out. Iris looked up and said nothing, not sure what to say to that when the Doctor reiterated his question again with a stronger voice with,

“WHY?!”

Iris visibly flinched at that and replied, “Because they needed me. Also, you needed to come back no matter what.”

The Doctor gave her a sidelong glance and came up to her, gripping her shoulders as he said,

“I thought I had left you to die…”

Iris heard his voice break and immediately hugged him, saying, “Never. Don’t think that. I knew what I was doing, and I… I don’t think I can do that to you. Not if I can help it.”

But Iris was shaken by what she had seen. The screams and the ash falling around her. It had been too much. Also, she wasn’t willing to going through death all over again, when she had recently returned from it not too long ago. As she trembled from the experience, she felt the Doctor hug her tightly and draw circles on her arm with his thumb. Something about his hug helped calm her down and she sighed in relief as that adventure was over.

Then she chuckled as she pushed off from the Doctor. The Doctor frowned and looked down and asked, “What is it?”

She just shook her head and said, “How did Jack ever cope with you?”

The Doctor caught the mischievous glint in her eyes and said, “Oy, I was a fantastic man back then!”

Iris scoffed as she caught onto where he was going with that and asked, “What? With those big ears of yours in your past regeneration? No thank you. I much preferred your eighth regeneration over…”

Iris immediately stopped talking. But the Doctor noticed a faint blush appear on her face as she realized what she was talking about. The Doctor smiled and then coughed awkwardly as he caught sense of what she was thinking about through their bond. A blush appeared on his face and when Iris saw that she yelled out,

“Not like that!” Iris then groaned out, “Jack’s going to get a kick out of this…”

The Doctor coughed again his face turning red at that and Iris’ eyes widened. She quickly muttered,

“I think I’ll… just go to bed now…” and ran off to her room.

The Doctor coughed again and then just turned towards his console. And when he tried to fix some stuff, the TARDIS made a whirring noise that almost sounded like laughter and he frowned.

“Stop it.” He said, as if he was scolding the TARDIS for teasing him.

Meanwhile, Iris slammed the door to her room and blushed even further. Why had the bond flared up like that? It wasn’t that she felt something for the eight regeneration of the Doctor, but that she had admired him. In fact, the eighth Doctor was one of her favorites. And for some reason, the bond had acted up at that fact. If Jack had seen the whole interaction, he would have made some type of inappropriate comment and she would have hated herself for causing such a scene.

Shaking her head, she willed those thoughts away and climbed into bed, hoping that she would forget about this altogether as if it had never happened.

Chapter Text

After that awkward encounter with the Doctor, Iris tried avoiding the Time Lord as much as possible. And with a stroke of luck, she had managed to avoid him a lot. But Donna had enough of Iris’ attempts at hiding from the Doctor once she realized what had happened between the two time travelers when she finally dragged Iris out of her room.

“You know what we need? Another adventure.”

Being dragged towards the console room, Iris sighed and said, “Fine, you win.”

Donna laughed and let go of Iris’ hand, trusting that she would not run back to her room. Once they finally arrived the Doctor smiled happily and said,

“So, ready to fly off to another adventure?”

Donna fervently nodded her head as she said, “Oh yes!” while Iris just nodded.

The Doctor then set the coordinates when the TARDIS began to shake chaotically. All three adventurers held onto the console as the shaking began too much. Once it landed, Iris’ legs gave out from trying to keep balance for too long and she groaned.

“Set the controls to random. Mystery tour. Outside that door, could be any planet, anywhere, any-when in the whole wide u-. Are you alright?”

He looked at Donna, who looked like she was out of breath and a little nervous. Donna let out a hesitant breath and looked over to Iris and smiled a little. Her nervousness was clearly written in her features. Iris smiled back, hiding her sense of sadness from the Doctor and Donna. She recognized which adventure this was when the Doctor said the two words: Mystery tour.

Donna calmed down a little and said, “Terrified. I mean, history’s one thing but an alien planet?”

Iris laughed a little and grabbed Donna’s hand and asked, “But isn’t exciting? Just the wonders that the outside can hold? The fact that it can be a different planet altogether?”

Donna smiled and nodded, while the Doctor whispered “I could always take you two home.”

Iris shook her head while Donna’s eyes narrowed a little and said, “Yeah, don’t laugh at me.”

The Doctor smiled a little as he felt Iris’ subtle excitement that felt almost bubbly ash e said, “I know what it’s like. Everything you two are feeling right now. The fear, the joy, the wonder? I get that.”

Donna looked at the Doctor in wonder and asked, “Seriously? After all this time?”

The Doctor then looked at Iris and winked while he responded to Donna with, “Yeah. Why do you think I keep going?”

Donna relaxed a bit and smiled wider as she said, “Oh. Alright then, you and Iris and me three. This is barmy. I was born in Chiswick. I’ve only ever had package holidays. Now I’m here. This is so…. I mean it’s… I don’t know, it’s all sort of… I don’t even know what the word is.”

Iris then remembered something and immediately shouted “Wait a mo!” and ran towards her room to grab some coats for her and Donna.

The Doctor and Donna shared bewildered looks and the Doctor just shrugged. Even with the bond, as it was only emotional, he was not able to decipher much of what she was really thinking at the moment other than her emotions. And even with that, Iris was good at blocking him out from the deepest of her emotions.

And after about a minute, Iris came running back holding two really big jackets for winter weather. The Doctor furrowed his brows and Donna looked even more confused as Iris huffed out,

“We’re going to need this. The Doctor may be able to tolerate colder weather, but I don’t think we can.”

Donna the remembered about Iris’ origins and said, “Thank you! If you weren’t here, I would have blindly stomped out there and probably would have needed this idiot to defrost me.”

Iris laughed at Donna’s joke while the Doctor rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, yeah… let’s hurry! There’s a whole world out there waiting for us! Let’s go!”

Iris and Donna hurriedly put on their jackets and walked outside and then Iris asked,

“Donna, do you still not have a word for this trip yet?”

Donna shivered despite the jacket and yelled out, “Oh I’ve got the word. Freezing.”

Iris laughed out loud and the Doctor ignored it as he said,

“Snow! Oh, real snow. Proper snow at last. That’s more like it. Lovely. What do you think?”

He looked at Iris expectantly and she shook her had at the puppy eyes and sarcastically answered with, “Bit cold.”

The Doctor pouted a little and Iris felt a tug of wishing for acceptance and the strange feeling caused her to blush a little. But the Doctor missed this as he turned around and commented,

“Look at that view.”

However, Donna didn’t miss this and smiled a little at Iris’ slight blush before looking towards the view that the planet offered as she whispered,

“Yep. Beautiful, cold view.”

The Doctor then started rambling with, “Millions of planets, millions of galaxies, and we’re on this one. Moto bene. Bellissimo, says Donna, born in Chiswick. All you’ve got is a life of work and sleep, and telly and rent and tax and takeaway dinners, all birthdays and Christmases and two week holidays a year, and then you end up here. Donna Noble, citizen of Earth, standing on a different planet. How about that Donna?”

Donna just looked at Iris with confusion as she didn’t catch the Doctor’s rambling and Iris translated it for her, saying, “What do you think about being on a different planet?”

But Donna missed that too as she had put on her hood, causing Iris and the Doctor to look at each other before asking,

“Can you hear anything inside that?”

Donna looked at them and asked, “Pardon?”

The Doctor frowned a little and asked, “All right, I was saying citizen of the Earth-”

But as he was speaking, a massive rocket passed by over their heads slowly. Iris gaped at the massive size of it while Donna exclaimed,

“Rocket. Blimey, a real proper rocket. Now that’s what I call a spaceship. You’ve got a box, he’s got a Ferrari. Come on, let’s go see where he’s going.”

Iris felt the disappointment from the Doctor’s side of the bond and she just slipped her arm through his and whispered,

“Don’t worry. I like the TARDIS far better.”

The Doctor smiled just a little at that and felt a little happier inside at the physical contact they shared. It felt right, and he could feel how genuine Iris was about liking the TARDIS more than the rocket ship. He finally had someone who felt the same way as he did. And that made him happier than ever.

But as they were walking the Doctor heard a soft, yet sad melody, which got stronger and stronger. Unbeknownst to him, Iris also heard the song and slightly tightened her grip to the Doctor’s arm as she recognized what song it was. She tried to hold down the sadness that she felt, but it was hard as she also felt the Doctor trying to do the exact same thing.

The Doctor asked, “Hold on, can you hear that? Donna, Iris, take your hood down.”

Iris immediately did that, though she really didn’t need to while Donna yelled out, “What?”

The Doctor’s voice broke a little as he said, “That noise is like a song. Over there.”

With that, he wiggled his arm free from Iris’ tightened grip and treaded down the hill while Iris and Donna followed. Iris took in a sharp breath and wished Jack was with her more than ever as she saw the Ood. Donna ran down and went towards the Ood as she whispered,

“What is it?”

The Doctor grew somber as he replied with, “An Ood. He’s called an Ood.”

Donna looked at it with sadness as she commented, “But it’s face.”

Iris remained silent as she tried so hard to hold back her tears while the Doctor said, “Donna, don’t. Not now. It’s a he, not an it. Give me a hand.”

With that, Donna said, “Sorry.”

The Doctor scanned the Ood as he muttered, “I don’t know where the heart is. I don’t know if he’s got a heart. Talk to him, keep him going.”

Iris knelt by Donna and whispered to the Oood, “It’s alright. We’ve got you.”

Donna asked carefully, “Er, what’s your name?”

The Ood responded with, “Disgnated Ood Delta 50.”

Donna grabbed the translator ball to speak to it, but Iris merely grabbed it and shook her head. Donna got the message and said, “My name’s Donna.”

Iris stood up again, turning around trying so hard not to cry. But tears slipped down her face as the song seemed to just keep going. She wanted Jack and Ianto with her desperately now. No, she needed them.

The Doctor was studying the wound the Ood had and darkly said, “You’ve been shot.”

Iris flinched while the Ood weakly responded with, “The circle.”

Donna shook her head and tried to stop the Ood from using energy when he was so weak already. Iris turned back around to see the Ood as he said, “The circle must be broken.”

This piqued the Doctor’s interest as he asked, “Circle? What do you mean? Delta 50, what circle? Delta 50? What circle?”

But Iris immediately grabbed and pulled the Doctor and Donna away as Delta 50 suddenly roared as his eyes turned red. Iris kept a hold on Donna by hugging her while Delta 50 finally fell back into the snow limply. Iris couldn’t keep her eyes off of the Ood. Guilt settled in when the Doctor grabbed her shoulder, rubbing it with his thumb while a sense of comfort and a knowing sense of sadness was sent through the bond. Iris looked up at him and saw he was looking at her with a knowing look in his eyes. His lips were set in a straight line and she saw something small subtly burning in his eyes.

As they were doing this, Donna walked weakly to the Ood as she whispered, “He’s gone.”

A tear escaped Iris’ eye again as the Doctor warned Donna to be careful. But Donna ignored it as she whispered,

“There you are, sweetheart. We were too late. What do we do, do we bury him?”

Iris sniffed and lowly said, “The snow will take care of that.”

Donna heard the sadness in Iris’ voice and nodded, grabbing the woman’s hand to comfort both Iris and herself. Iris smiled gratefully and after a moment of silence, Donna asked,

“Who was he? What’s an Ood?”

The Doctor answered, “They’re servants of humans in the 42nd century. Mildly telepathic. That was the song. It was his mind calling out.”

Donna shook her head as she sadly said, “I couldn’t hear anything.”

Iris choked out, “He sang as he was dying.”

The Doctor quickly looked at Iris warily as he asked, “You heard it too?”

Iris nodded and let go of Donna’s hand as she said, “It’s sad.”

The Doctor felt it too but he didn’t comment on it as he continued with, “His eyes turned red.”

Iris explained to Donna, “This means trouble. The Ood are supposed to be harmless. They’re completely benign.”

The Doctor thought back to the one time they were not and flinched slightly while Iris just felt a bit sad of the reminder. She ignored the Doctor’s mutterings and Donna’s questions and merely followed them.

As they got closer and closer to the factory, Iris wondered how the Doctor was able to act so normally when the song became almost unbearable. Flashes of Jack’s smile and embraces came across her mind but she just felt more depressed than ever before. Iris tried to think of happy memories, but it was getting harder and harder for her to do so.

The Doctor felt the change in Iris and threw worried glances at her every so often, but wasn’t sure how deeply this was affecting Iris.

When they finally arrived at the factory complex and caught up to the tour group, they all heard the woman say,

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Ood Sphere. And isn’t it bracing? Here are your information packs, with vouchers, 3D tickets and a map of the complex. My name’s Solana, Head of Marketing. I’m sure we’ve all spoken on the vidfone. Now, if you’d like to follow me.”

The Doctor grabbed Iris’ hand and Donna followed as the Doctor went to Solana and said,

“Sorry, sorry, sorry. Late, don’t mind us. Hello. The guards let us through.”

Solana looked at the trio incredulously as she asked, “And you would be?”

The Doctor responded with, “The Doctor, Iris Kim and Donna Noble.”

Donna added in, “Representing the Noble Corporation PLC Limited, Intergalactic.”

The Doctor flashed his psychic paper. Iris remained silent but managed a professional smile she had perfected at Torchwood.

Solana frowned as she checked her list and said, “Must have fallen off my list. My apologies. Won’t happen again. Now then, Doctor Noble, Mrs. Noble, and Miss Kim, if you’d like to come with me.”

The Doctor looked horrified as he tightened his grip on Iris’ hand as he said, “Oh, no, no, no, no… We’re not married.”

Donna gasped in horror as she also said, “We’re so not married.”

“Never.”

“Never ever”

Iris managed a wider smile in amusement at how in sync the two were while Solana looked a little guilty as she saw how the Doctor held hands with Iris and said,

“Of course. Sorry Mrs. Kim, I made a big mistake. And here are your information packs, vouchers inside. Now if you’d like to come with me, the Executive Suites are nice and warm.”

Iris opened her mouth to reply back at how she wasn’t married to the Doctor while the Doctor blushed a little, causing Donna to snigger at their shocked looks when the alarm rang.

The Doctor curiously asked, “Oh, what’s that? That sounds like an alarm.”

Solana looked anxious as she responded with, “Oh, it’s just a siren for the end of the work shift. Now then, this way, quick as you can.”

Iris shook her head and let go of the Doctor’s hand as she followed the tour group with a sense of slight dread.”

When they went inside, they saw the three Oods standing on small platforms. People began taking drinks from the trays but Iris sighed out loud, stress and frustration taking hold. She began to feel exhausted as if the world was weighing down on her. The Doctor frowned and felt her exhaustion and immediately noticed what she was going through. He whispered to her,

“Are you alright?” as Solana was giving her presentation.

Iris gave him a tight smile and he noticed the pain in her eyes as she said, “I’m fine.”

The Doctor frowned and wanted to hug her, but refrained from doing so. He knew the lie, and wanted to take her somewhere away from this planet. The song was clearly making her suffer. He understood what it was like, and grabbed her hand again, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb. Iris smiled a little more and leaned into him as if it comforted her more to do so.

The bond warmed up between them and made it just a little bit more bearable for Iris. The trio watched on as Solana continued presenting when the Doctor and Iris walked to Solana’s lectern and use the screen. As the Doctor studied what was projected, he muttered,

“Ah, got it. The Ood Sphere, I’ve been to this solar system before. Years ago. Ages. Close to the planet Sense Sphere. Let’s widen out.”

With that, Iris widened the map for him and he rambled a bit more.


“The year 4126. That is the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire.”

Donna gaped at the duo and asked, “4126? It’s 4126. I’m in 4126.”

The Doctor smiled and asked, “It’s good, isn’t it?”

Donna’s eyes sparkled in wonder and curiosity as she asked, “What’s the Earth like now?”

The Doctor answered the question and then the Doctor and Donna continued their talk while Iris let go of the Doctor’s hand a little as she walked to a small corner and took out her phone. She bit her lower lip, debating whether she should call Jack and Ianto. After thinking a bit, she input Ianto’s number and waited as she heard the phone ring.

“Ianto speaking.”

Iris smiled a little and said, “Hey Ianto.”

“Iris! How are you?”

“I… I’m fine.”

Back at the Torchwood Hub, Ianto was at the archives organizing files when he frowned. He put the files down and said,

“Iris. I know that tone. Something is troubling you.”

“I…I just miss you and everyone else.”

Ianto froze a little as his heart beat faster and he shifted a little. It was nice to hear that, but something wasn’t right.

“Iris, is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine. Or… it will be all fine. I just really needed to hear your voice. That’s all.”

Ianto’s worry grew and he started walking towards the Hub again and he said,

“I’m flattered. Where are you now?”

He ran into Jack, who came out of his office after having talked to Tosh. He saw Tosh’s tear-stained eyes as she grabbed her coat and headed out towards Cardiff Bay.

Iris replied back with “On a planet in year 4126.”

Ianto chuckled and said, “Year 4126? 42nd century, huh. What’s it like?”

Jack heard that and mouthed ‘Iris?’ to Ianto, who nodded. Jack came closer to the phone and Ianto put it on speaker.

Trigger Warning placed here! Please skip if you don’t think it would help! Just scroll past until you see the “all clear” sign from me in this bolded text!

 

 

“Well, it’s bloody freezing here. But it’s beautiful. It’s just… I… I could hear this song the Ood are singing… and it’s so sad… it’s… Ianto I—it’s hard to not think about it. It’s so exhausting and the song…. It’s making it unbearable for me to not just give up.”

Ianto tensed and he immediately turned the speaker phone off and grabbed the phone as he held his hand up to Jack. Jack frowned and wanted to talk to Iris, wondering why Ianto suddenly made the call private between the two of them, but Ianto shook his head. Jack stood by and saw Ianto walk away with the phone.

But Jack wasn’t aware of one thing. Ianto found out about Iris’ depression and habits of cutting herself beforehand. Iris had told him one night when he saw how she had looked at sharp objects a bit longingly once or twice during some cases when her headaches would be terrible. He had approached her about it and she had been honest with him. But when he had suggested telling Jack, Iris begged him not to say anything. Ianto reluctantly agreed and helped Iris through some rough times before the Year that Never Was.

 

 

ALL CLEAR! Can read from here. It should be fine from here.

Ianto whispered into the phone and said, “Iris, are you with the Doctor?”

Iris confirmed it and Ianto immediately said, “Iris, I want you to remember something…”

And with that, Ianto talked about the happy memories they shared. The movie marathons they did, the funny cases, the little creature they befriended and made as a pet at the Hub, and more.

Iris smiled and relaxed a little as the song’s effect seemed to die down. When Ianto was done and Iris was feeling a lot better, she said,

“Thank you Ianto. It really helped.”

Ianto smiled as he leaned on the wall, feeling proud that he could help her with her struggles.

“No problem. Do you want to talk to Jack? He’s nearby.”

Iris smiled, Ianto knew what she needed the most. “Yeah, that would be great.”

Ianto walked back to Jack, who worriedly glanced at Ianto, who nodded and handed him the phone. Jack immediately picked it up and said,

“Iris? Are you alright?”

Iris replied with, “Yup! Ianto made it all better for me. I needed that.”

“The Doctor isn’t making it tough on you, is he?” Jack asked with concern.

He heard Iris laugh and her say, “No, not really. I just wish you were here with me.”

Jack put his hand in his pocket as he said, “Man, I wish. The stars, the sights… and the company would have been great too.”

Iris laughed even harder, causing the Doctor to look over in surprise and smile a bit as he saw how happier Iris looked. She muttered,

“Stop flirting over the phone. By the way, what’s been happening while I was gone?”

Jack walked towards Iris’ desk and sat on her chair, while saying, “A soldier called Tommy from a different time saved our world.”

Iris’ smile turned wistful as she said, “Tommy was a brave man. How is Tosh taking it?”

Jack looked at the picture on Iris’ desk of herself and the team as he responded, with, “Not too well. But Owen’s with her, so it should be fine.”

“That’s good. I have to go, but Jack, I think I’m gonna go back once this adventure’s over. I need a break to be honest. See you.”

Jack smiled as he put the picture down as he said, “Can’t wait. Be safe Iris.”

“Always.” Iris responded before hanging up. Donna came up to her with curiosity. Iris smiled and said,

“My team back on Earth. I needed to talk with them. I miss them.”

Donna smiled and said, “Well, we are heading out to snoop around. Let’s go.”

Iris walked alongside Donna and the Doctor, feeling a lot better after the phone call. But as they were following the tour group, the trio snuck off. The Doctor felt the change in Iris and smiled a bit. She must have called Jack. In all honesty, he did miss his old friend, but Jack clearly had his own responsibilities. Maybe the 51st century man could join him the next time they went off to have an adventure.

The trio snuck into one of the factory complexes to find the reality of how the Ood were treated. They saw how one Ood fell to the ground when one of the men cracked the whip in his hand. Donna was horrified at the sight and she whispered in horror,

“Servants? They’re slaves?”

Iris grimaced as the Doctor whispered in a similar manner, “Last time I met the Ood, I never thought. I never asked.”

Donna looked at the Doctor with surprise as she said, “That’s not like you.”

The Doctor felt guilty as he responded with, “I was busy. So busy I couldn’t save them. I had to let the Ood die. I reckon I owe them one.”

Iris patted the Doctor’s shoulder as she said, “We will save them. Because they’re fighting. Can’t you feel it?”

The Doctor looked at Iris’ eyes and saw what she meant. The song. It was a cry for help. A look of determination took over the Doctor’s features as he looked at the scene in front of him. Donna pointed to a man as she whispered, “That looks like the boss.”

The Doctor whispered, “Let’s keep out of his way. Come on.”

They all snuck out to a different area. When they came upon the Ood Cargo, they gaped at the mere sight of the sheer number of shipping containers that held the Ood.

Iris said, “Ood export. The containers get lifted and taken to rocket sheds, probably to be flown out all over the three galaxies we saw earlier.”

Donna looked at her with shock as she asked, “What, you mean, these containers are full of…?”

The Time Lord looked at her seriously as he said, “What do you think?”

They went up to one of the shipping containers and Donna frowned instantly at the smell, noting it with, “Oh, it stinks. How many of them do you think there are in each one?”

The Doctor’s gaze turned cold as he bit out, “Hundred? More?”

Donna looked sadly over the Ood as she said, “A great big empire built on slavery.”

Iris choked out, “It’s not so different from our time Donna.”

Donna looked at her with shock and a little bit of anger as she said, “Oi, I haven’t got any slaves.”

The Doctor shook his head, knowing what Iris meant as he said, “Who do you think made your clothes?”

Donna flinched at that and she snapped at him, “Is that why you travel around with humans at your side? It’s not so you can show them the wonders of the universe, it’s so you can take cheap shots?”

Iris grabbed Donna and looked at her with, “Donna. It’s not his fault.”

Donna cast her eyes to the ground, tears building up, but nodded. She knew it wasn’t like that. But the sight of the Oods like this angered her.”

Iris hugged Donna, understanding the woman and had eye contact with the Doctor. He nodded towards her and when the two women let go of each other, Donna asked the Oods,

“I don’t understand, the door is open, why don’t you just run away?”

The Ood in front of her asked, “For what reason?”

Donna looked a little surprise and quickly responded with, “You could be free.”

Iris grimaced as the Ood responded innocently to Donna with, “I do not understand the concept.”

Donna looked distraught at that and then asked the woman and the Time Lord, “What is it with that Persil ball? I mean, they’re not born with it, are they? Why do they have to be all plugged in?”

Iris grimaced as she responded to Donna with, “We’re going to find out soon Donna. Just, wait a bit.”

Donna looked at how Iris seemed upset and sad again and nodded. She would find out eventually. Iris always told the truth. She could wait. The Doctor, unable to withhold his curiosity, asked the Ood,

“Ood, tell me. Does the circle mean anything to you?”

Suddenly, all the Ood responded with, “The circle must be broken.”

Donna grabbed onto Iris as she whispered, “Oh, that is creepy.”

Iris warily glanced at the entrance of the container while the Doctor pressed onwith,

“But what is it? What is the circle?”

All the Oods repeated, “The circle must be broken.”

The Doctor asked, a little frustrated, “Why?”

The Oods said, “So that we can sing.” At the same time Iris said, “So they can sing.”

Suddenly, the alarm rang and the Doctor groaned out, “Oh, that’s us. Come on.”

With that, the trio ran out of the container. Donna suddenly stopped and yelled out, “Doctor there’s a door.”

The door opened and guards entered. Iris having stayed with Donna, was also locked into the container with the Ood. Donna turned around to Iris and asked,

“Can we get out?”

Iris replied with, “I’m not sure we can. They locked it from the outside.”

Donna groaned and asked the Ood, “Can you help us?”

But Iris whipped out her gun and had it pointed towards the ground as Donna went behind Iris upon seeing the red eyes.

Donna freaked out by saying, “Oh, no you don’t. What have we done? We’re not one of that lot. We’re on your side. Stay where you are.”

Iris looked at Donna, causing her to stop and Iris whispered, “We’re here to break the circle.”

The Oods still had red eyes, but stopped their advance on them. Donna breathed roughly in and out, not believing how calm Iris was in this situation. And the way she held her gun. It wasn’t something she was used to.

Iris then turned around to Donna and said, “Donna, call for the Doctor.”

Donna not knowing what to do, started banging on the door and screaming for the Doctor to let them out. They barely heard the Doctor say,

“If you don’t do what she says, you’re really in trouble Not from me, from her.”

Then the container door opened. Iris quickly put in her gun into her holster and walked out warily, glancing at the Oods while Donna ran out to hug the Doctor. The Doctor noticed how tense Iris was and noticed the red eyes from the Oods. Iris held the Doctor back when one of the Oods jumped out to kill a guard.

Suddenly, guards started to fire their guans while the Doctor, Donna, Solana and Iris ran outside. Once they found cover, Donna said,

“If people back on Earth knew what was going on here.”

Solana rolled her eyes as she said, “Oh, don’t be so stupid. Of course they know.”

Donna looked at her with anger as she said, “They know how you treat the Ood.”

Solana looked a little pissed off as she responded back with, “They don’t ask. Same thing.”

The Doctor looked at Solana and asked, “Solana, the Ood aren’t born like this. They can’t be. A species born to serve could never evolve in the first place. What does the company do to make them obey?”

Solana looked at them and said, “That’s nothing to do with me.”

Iris looked a little murderous as she stepped up to Solana as she calmly said, “Trust me sweetheart, now it does. Tell us where Doctor Ryder is because we are the only thing to help with the red eye. If not…”

With that, Iris took out her gun from her holster and undid the safety. Solana saw and gulped. She responded with, “There, beyond the red section.”

Iris smiled just a bit, sending shivers down Solana’s back before Iris grabbed her and whispered into her ear,

“It would be wise if you just walked away without saying anything because if you do, I will use the gun. Now, if you value your life, just walk away.”

Solana gulped and did as she was told. The Doctor frowned and angrily asked, “What was that for?!”

Iris put her gun away, glaring back at the Doctor a little as she said, “She would have yelled for guards. We don’t have time, she’s still going to let them know where we are headed to. Let’s go.”

With that Iris walked off and the Doctor followed with Donna. The Doctor and Iris heard the song get louder and louder as the approached the Ood Conversion center. They arrived at the door when the Doctor said,

“Oh, can you hear it? I didn’t need the map. I should have listened.”

Iris silently entered the Ood Conversion center once the Doctor had opened the door. The song was growing in intensity as they got closer and closer. Donna paused as she looked at the door and asked,

“Hold on. Does that mean we’re locked in?”

Ignoring the question, the Time Lord repeated, “Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen.”

Iris grimaced and this did not go unnoticed by Donna, who wondered what the two other time travelers were hearing.

The Doctor looked at Iris worriedly and asked, “Is your head alright?”

Iris looked at the Doctor and shrugged a little, whispering, “It’s bearable compared to what I had before.”

The Doctor instantly frowned at that, but shook his head and concentrated on the music. When Donna gave him and Iris curious looks, he asked,

“Can’t you hear it? The singing?”

They then come across the Ood that are sitting in the cages, who immediately turn away from the trio as they got nearer. Donna noted the difference in these Oods and stated,

“They look different to the others.”

Iris whispered out, “That’s because they’re natural born Ood, unprocessed, before they’re adapted to slavery.”

The Doctor continued with, “Unspoilt. And that’s their song.”

Donna noticed how sad Iris looked as she continued observing the Ood inside the cage as she whispered, “I can’t hear it.”

The Doctor looked at Iris, who merely nodded as he asked, “Do you want to?”

Donna looked back at the Oods before nodding and saying “Yeah” in response.

The Doctor gave a sterner look to Donna as he warned her with, “It’s the song of captivity.”

Donna’s eyes widened at that, grabbing Iris’ hands for comfort and to gain some courage before she said, “Let me hear it.”

The Doctor said, “Face me.”

Following his directions, Donna turned to look at the Doctor, who immediately put two of his fingers onto Donna’s temples as he helped her hear the song. The Doctor carefully whispered,

“Open your mind. That’s it. Hear it, Donna. Hear the music.”

Donna grabbed Iris’ hand much tighter than before as she finally heard the song Iris and the Doctor have been hearing from the beginning. Iris pat her back as Donna finally felt the overwhelming sadness from the beautiful music. Tears fell down her cheeks as she couldn’t stop herself. Iris wordlessly handed her handkerchief to the woman while looking back to the Oods again.

“Take it away.” Donna choked out.

The Doctor warily asked, “Sure?”

Donna answered with, “I can’t bear it.”

The Doctor let go of Donna as the telepathic field disconnected. Donna breathed a sigh of relief as she managed to choke out, “I’m sorry.”

The Doctor looked sympathetic as he comforted her with, “It’s okay.”

Donna looked at Iris and the Doctor, saying, “But you two can still hear it.”

Iris smiled a little, sadness clearly emanating from her eyes. At the moment the two time travelers looked so equally worn out that they looked identical to Donna at that single moment.

The Doctor muttered, “All the time.”

Which did not go unnoticed by Iris. Iris felt the sadness coming from the Doctor and could not help but look at the Time Lord, unsure of what she could do to help. Without much words, the Doctor started to use his sonic and opened the cage. They started hearing the banging at the door of the Ood Conversion center and Donna fearfully said, “They’re breaking in.”

The Doctor bit out, “Ah, let them.”

The Doctor then notice the Ood cower to the corner to gain some distance. He noticed something in their hands and asked,

“What are you holding? Show me. Friend. Doctor, Donna, Iris. Friends. Let me see. Look at me. Let me see. That’s it. That’s it, go on. Go on.”

He gently eased them to show the trio what they had in their hands. Donna gasped at the little brain and asked, “Is that?”

Iris nodded as she said, “It’s a brain. A hind brain. The Ood are born with a secondary brain.”

The Doctor continued it with, “Like the amygdala in humans, it processes memory and emotions. You get rid of that, you wouldn’t be Donna anymore. You’d be like an Ood.”

Iris added to that, “A processed Ood.”

The Doctor noticed what he had just said and looked apologetic. Iris just looked at him with a stare that warned him to be careful with his words. The Doctor nodded as Donna continued to ask them questions.

“So the company cuts off their brains?”

The Doctor’s voice grew angrier as he said, “And the stitch on the translator.”

Donna muttered out in shock of the truth behind the Oods, “Like a lobotomy. I spent all that time looking for you, Doctor, because I thought it was so wonderful out here. I want to go home.”

Iris looked up at Donna and hugged the companion while the Doctor hurriedly pushed the three of them into the cage as the door opened and a guard yelled out,

“They’re with the Ood sir!”

The Doctor closed the cage door and Iris hugged Donna tighter as the Doctor yelled out in response,

“What you going to do, then? Arrest me? Lock me up? Throw me in a cage? Well, you’re too late. Ha!”

Donna looked at Iris and saw how Iris rolled her eyes at the Doctor’s antics and felt surprised at how calm the other companion looked at the moment. Didn’t it bother her that the song was on repeat in her head and that the company was cruelly treating the Oods? But that was when she saw the subtle dark look in Iris’ eyes. If she hadn’t known Iris, Donna would never have noticed the burning anger in Iris. And this honestly scared her more than the outburst of anger the Doctor seemed to be currently expressing.

But soon enough, the were dragged out of the cage by the guards and taken to Halpen’s office. The Doctor, Iris and Donna were handcuffed to some pipes. Iris remained calm while Donna and the Doctor struggled against them.

Halpen looked at the trio and said, “Why don’t you just come out and say it? FOTO activists.”

The Doctor huffed in anger as he responded, “If that’s what Friends of the Ood are trying to prove, then yes.”

Halpen got a little closer to them and said, “The Ood are nothing without us, just animals roaming around on the ice.”

Iris remained silent while her eyes followed Halpen’s every move. Occasionally her eyes narrowed, showing the raw anger behind her calm façade, but she remained almost eerily calm. Halpen tried to ignore the look Iris was giving him since it scared him a little.

The Doctor did not notice this as he was too angry with what was going on as he bit out, “That’s because you can’t hear them.”

Halpen laughed a little as if shocked to hear this statement and said, “They welcomed it. It’s not as if they put up a fight.”

Donna rolled her eyes at the man’s idiocy as she said, “You idiot. They’re born with their brains in their hands. Don’t you see, that makes them peaceful. They’ve got to be, because a creature like that would have to trust anyone it meets.”

The Doctor muttered out, “Oh, nice one.”

Donna thanked him while Halpen looked at Iris once more, before asking, “And you? You haven’t said anything.”

Iris merely arched an eyebrow. Halpen stared back, not wanting to lose the chance to gain a reaction from her. But Iris remained silent and looked back. That was when Halpen took a step back a little from something almost too tense for him to handle. Something in the girl had shifted as she merely stared, as if demeaning him, as if he was an inferior being. As if he was not worthy of interacting with her.

He swallowed a little to press down the rising fear in him as he looked away before saying,

“The system’s worked for two hundred years. All we’ve got is a rogue batch. But the infection is about to be sterilized. Mister Kess. How do we stand?”

The people in the office heard the static of the radio before hearing Kess say,

“Canisters primed, sir. As soon as the core heats up, the gas is released. Give it two hundred marks and counting.”

The Doctor frantically struggled against the pipes as he yelled out, “You’re going to gas them?!”

Halpen ignored the Doctor as he said, “Kill the livestock. The classic foot and mouth solution from the olden days. Still works.”

Iris’ eyes narrowed as she moved her arms a bit to get some blood pumping into her hands. She was quickly losing patience with the man, but still, she spared a glance at the Ood by Halpen. Anger, sadness, frustration were all mixed in her emotions and she was about to explode from them.

But chaos ensued and after moments of the Doctor and Donna screaming, Halpen muttered,

“Change of plan.”

Doctor Ryder looked aghast as he said, “There are no reports of trouble off-world, sir. It’s still contained to the Ood Sphere.”

Halpen responded with, “Then we’ve got a public duty to stop it before it spreads.”

But they all froze when Iris laughed hysterically. Donna looked shocked at that while the Doctor froze and wasn’t sure how to respond to the overwhelming amount of anger coming from Iris through their bond.

Halpen asked, “Is there something I missed? What’s so funny?”

Iris quieted down as she looked at Halpen with a look of pity before saying,

“You really are stupid aren’t you Halpen?”

Halpen rustled at that with annoyance and asked, “What?”

Iris chuckled a little before saying, “You have no idea why this started do you?”

Halpen looked at her incredulously before saying, “And you do?”

Iris stopped laughing and the smirk was quickly wiped off of her face as her face turned blank before she slowly replied back with, “And what will happen to you if you continue this path. Now, you should hurry along to Warehouse 15 Halpen, and see what the endgame of all this is.”

Halpen’s face paled as he choked out, “How do you know what’s in warehouse 15?”

Iris bit out, “I know everything.”

Halpen clearly blanched even more, giving him a ghostly complexion and Donna felt the anger roll off of the tiny woman by her side. If the Doctor had an overwhelming, authoritative presence when he was angry, Iris was more subtle, more demeaning and guilt-inducing to anyone who suffered her wrath.

The Doctor gulped a little at that and tried to take off Halpen’s attention from Iris as he asked, “What’s happening?”

Halpen came to like the Doctor had hoped and answered the question with, “Everything you wanted, Doctor. No doubt there’ll be a full police investigation once this place has been sterilized, so I can’t risk a bullet to the head. I’ll leave you to the mercies of the Ood.”

The Doctor looked at him carefully and thought back to Iris’ statements earlier and said,

“But Mister Halpen, there’s something else, isn’t there? Something we haven’t seen.”

Donna caught up to what he was indicating and asked, “What do you mean?”

Iris responded with, “A creature couldn’t survive with a separate forebrain and hindbrain. They’d be at war with themselves. There’s got to be something else, a third element, am I right?”

Halpen looked at her and said, “And again, so clever.”

The Doctor added on “But it’s got to be connected to the red eye. What is it?”

Halpen glared at the trio before smirking evilly and said, “It won’t exist for very much longer. Enjoy your Ood.”

Halpen exited his office and the moment he did that, Iris lowered her arms from the pipe, clearly having freed herself at some point during their conversation with Halpen. Donna gaped at her and asked incredulously,

“How did you do that?”

Iris shrugged and helped pick the handcuff locks for Donna first as she said, “Torchwood secrets.”

Donna laughed nervously as she said, “Well, you have to teach me how to do that, considering that I have an inkling that this won’t be the last time we will be handcuffed to something.”

Iris laughed out loud and winked at her and said, “For you Donna, anything.”

As Donna waited for Iris to work her magic on the handcuffs with her short height, she looked at the Doctor and muttered, “Well, do something. You’re the one with all the tricks. You must have met Houdini.”

The Doctor twisted and turned as he grunted out, “These are really good handcuffs. How did you get out?”

He asked at Iris, surprised at how she did it right in front of Halpen without getting caught.

Iris rolled her eyes as she said, “Wait a mo, I’ll get you out without bruising your ego.”

With that, Iris managed to free Donna, who breathed a sigh of relief and rubbed her sore wrists. Iris immediately started working on the Doctor’s handcuff. When she tiptoed on her toes, she was up close to the Doctor.

“Sorry.” Iris muttered as she started working. The Doctor looked down to her face and held his breath as he felt her breathing on his face. He noticed how she smelled of green apple, her favorite soap smell (as he had asked previously out of random curiosity). He shifted a little to give Iris more access to work on the handcuffs when suddenly three Oods entered the room. Panicking the Doctor yelled out,

“Doctor Donna, Iris friends.”

Donna got closer to Iris and hid behind the Doctor as she also yelled out, “The circle must be broken.”

The Doctor repeated his statement while Iris hurried up her work with the handcuffs. When she finally managed to free him, they all backed up to the wall and kept repeating their own statements while Iris rolled her shoulders a little to ease the tension that had built up with her attempts to free the two others from their handcuffs. As they were stuck to the walls on their backs, the Oods suddenly said,

“Doctor. Donna. Iris. Friends.”

The Doctor and Donna both looked relieved as they said, “Yes. That’s us. Friends. Oh, yes.”

They all ran out of the office and were in the middle of the factory complex, which is in a state of chaos as the Doctor groaned out,

“I don’t know where it is. I don’t know where they’ve gone.”

Iris rolled her eyes as she grabbed the hands of her two friends and said, “Follow me.”

The Doctor whined out in complaint, clearly not enjoying the fact that he didn’t get to lead. Iris rolled her eyes again and Donna just looked at the Time Lord incredulously once again. She had never expected to see him whine. Ever.

When they finally reached the warehouse, the Doctor sonicked the door and opened it as they hurriedly ran in. Iris heard the faint voice of Halpen say,

“No need. We’ve got this. Detonation packs. Place them around the circumference. We’re going to blow it up. This thing dies, so do the Ood.”

Hearing that, Iris grit her teeth in fury as she bolted towards the area Halpen was at. She was going to beat that man to a pulp if it meant that was the only way to get him to stop. When they were finally inside, the Doctor commented,

“The Ood Brain. Now it all makes sense. That’s the missing link. The third element, binding them together. Forebrain, hind brain and this, the telepathic centre. It’s a shared mind, connecting all the Ood in song.”

Halpen said, “Cargo. I can always go into cargo. I’ve got the rockets, I’ve got the sheds. Smaller business. Much more manageable, without livestock.”

They heard Ryder pipe in, “He’s mined the area.”

Donna looked horrified as she said, “You’re going to kill it?”

Iris grimaced and got a little closer to Ryder as unnoticeably as possible. She wasn’t about to let the poor man die. Halpen continued to drawl on about his work and Ood Sigma finally joined in on the conversation. Iris heard The Doctor ask,

“Maybe it’s taken centuries to adapt. The subconscious reaching out?”

Ryder’s facial expression became determined as he said, “But the process was too slow. It had to be accelerated. You should never give me access to the controls, Mister Halpen. I lowered the barrier to its minimum. Friends of the Ood, sir. It’s taken me ten years to infiltrate the company, and I succeeded.”

Halpen muttered, “Yes. Yes, you did.”

But before Halpen could do anything, Iris pulled Ryder to her and put him behind her as she said,

“Oh, no you don’t. Not this time.”

Ryder looked shocked at how close to death he was. Donna brought him to her side while the Doctor’s eyes turned cold at the revelation. He gave a curt nod and a thank you to Iris as he stepped up to say something when Ood Sigma said,

“Would you like a drink, sir?”

Halpen looked surprised at the question and said, “I think hair loss is the least of my problems right now, thanks.”

Sigma however, didn’t appreciate the response and stood in front of Iris and the Doctor as he once again suggested,

“Please have a drink, sir.”

The Doctor looked down in surprise as he felt an overwhelming sense of guilt from Iris as she grabbed his hand. His eyes widened as something began to dawn on him, though still not clear. He watched on as Halpen’s gun shook a little as the man said,

“If you’re going to stand in their way, I’ll shoot you too.”

Sigma repeated the same suggestion when Halpen felt it. The difficulty of breathing, the rapid heart rate. Iris whispered to Ryder and Donna,

“It might be good to close your eyes for this.”

Donna and Ryder closed their eyes and Iris faced back to witness the end of Halpen. Halpen made choking noises as he asked

“Have, have you poisoned me?”

Iris’ grip got tighter as Ood Sigma said, “Natural Ood must never kill, sir.”

The Doctor asked, “What is that stuff?”

Ood Sigma responded, “Ood graft suspended in a biological compound, sir.”

Halpen looked horrified as he struggled to breathe, lowering his gun. Iris took the gun from the man and heard the man choke out,

“What the hell does that mean?”

The Doctor whistled out and said, “Oh, dear.”

Halpen yelled out, “Tell me!”

Iris stepped up and responded with a calm look, “Funny thing, the subconscious. Takes all sorts of shapes. Came out in the red eye as revenge, came out in the rabid Ood as anger, and then there was patience. All that intelligence and mercy, focused on Ood Sigma.”

And with a dramatic pause, Iris coldly smiled a little and asked,

 “How’s the hair loss Mister Halpen?”

Halpen grasped his hair and found even more hair than he had lost beforehand and gasped in horror. The Doctor silently watched while Iris said, “Donna, Doctor Ryder, keep your eyes closed, it’s going to be unpleasant.”

Donna peeped up, “Yup! Got that!”

The Doctor grasped Iris’ hand again, feeling the very same anger that was carefully held back. Meanwhile, Halpen yelled out,

“What have you done?”

The Doctor said, “Oh, they’ve been preparing you for a very long time. And now you’re standing next to the Ood Brain, Mister Halpen. Can you hear it? Listen.”

Halpen looked terrified and almost had a pleading look in his eyes as stuttered out, “Wh- What have you? I’m not…”

Halpen’s face goes blank as he reached for his head and peeled the skin off. Iris, finally grimaced, breaking her calm façade as she witnessed Halpen’s end and the Ood’s birth. In some ways, it was the most horrifying way to go, but the most beautiful way to learn from his mistakes. The tentacles came out of Halpen’s mouth.

Donna and Ryder finally opened their eyes and gasped as they saw an Ood instead of Halpen. Ryder whispered, “Oh my God…” in shock while Donna wasn’t sure whether to feel terrified as she asked,

“They turned him into an Ood?”

The Doctor curtly answered “Yup.”

Ryder said, “He’s an Ood.”

The Doctor once again said, “I noticed.”

Then the four people saw Halpen Ood sneeze and a small hind brain flop onto his hands.

Donna hid her face into Ryder’s chest at that, not bearing the result of all this pain while Iris grasped the Doctor’s hand tighter. The Doctor’s thumb began to rub circles in her hand to comfort her and sent waves of warmth to her. Iris got closer to the Doctor, needing that physical comfort.

Ood Sigma then said, “He has become Oodkind, and we will take care of him.”

Donna then looked at the backs of the two time travelers and then back at the Halpen Ood as she said,

“It’s weird, being with you. I can’t tell what’s right and what’s wrong anymore.”

The Doctor turned around and said, “It’s better that way. People who know for certain tend to be like Mister Halpen.”

Then the beeping sounded and Ryder quickly jumped to action as he began to deactivate the explosives while the Doctor and Iris helped.

The Doctor then smiled once they were all deactivated and said,

“That’s better. And now, Sigma, would you allow me old chap, Ryder the honor?”

Ryder looked surprised and blushed a little at that as Sigma said,

“It is yours, Ryder.”

The Doctor laughed as he pushed Ryder a little to go break the circle and said,

“Oh, yes! Stifled for 200 years, but not anymore. The circle is broken. The Ood can sing.”

With that, Ryder turned off the current, and the song that was so sad and tear-jerking immediately became joyous as the Ood expressed their newfound freedom.

Donna exclaimed “I can hear it!”

Ryder smiled at the song as he said, “It’s beautiful.”

The Doctor and Iris simultaneously felt the lift in their shoulders. The anger, the sadness, it was all lifted. They looked at each other and genuinely smiled at the feeling of that weight being lifted. They looked at each other for a while until Donna coughed a little to signal that she and Ryder was ready.

They all exited the factory when Ryder stopped as he asked, “Doctor, what should I do now?”

Iris and the Doctor looked at each other, decently surprised when Iris spoke up with,

“How about you stay here and explain? The people will need some assistance in understanding what happened here. You can stand as their representative. Help the Ood keep their freedom and protect their planet.”

The Doctor nodded and said, “That’s probably for the best. Especially since you are, indeed a friend of the Ood.”

Ryder blushed and said, “But I wasn’t able to do anything.”

Iris shook her head and laughed as she said, “No, you did everything! We just helped you clean up that’s all. Without you to lower the barrier to the minimum, the Ood will never have been able to reach out and fight back for their freedom. You did all the work for us.”

Donna smiled and shoved Ryder a little bit as she said, “You’re a hero.”

Ryder blushed even more at that and said, “I’ll try my best. I promise.”

With that, Ryder said, “Well then, I’ll see you off!”

Shrugging, the Doctor started leading the way towards the TARDIS. Iris followed, hand-in-hand with the Doctor. Donna was chatting in the back with Ryder while Iris said,

“I guess it was worth it.”

The Doctor looked at Iris with curiosity as she said, “Him being alive. I guess it was worth it. Now the Ood has someone that can fight for their cause. Spread the word for them.”

The Doctor pondered this for a moment and smiled as he said, “Sounds wonderful to me. Buenissimo.”

Iris laughed out loud at that and shoved the Doctor to the side. The Doctor pouted and Iris blushed a little before seeing the TARDIS and running towards it.

“Oh you’re a sight for sore eyes.” Iris whispered to her, while the Doctor warmly smiled.

Iris brought a sense of familiarity to him. A sense of warmth to his cold, burning loneliness. It was nice. It was almost addicting. Donna watched the interaction and Ryder said,

“They look nice together.”

Donna looked up at him and smiled wistfully as she said, “Yeah, they do, don’t they?”

Ryder nodded and looked at how Iris hugged the police box and frowned a little as he asked,

“Why’s she…?”

“Hugging the police box?” Donna finished for him.

Ryder nodded and Donna laughed as she said, “Oh you’ll find out soon.”

While Iris calmed down, the Doctor turned to look at Ood Sigma and said,

“The message has gone out. That son resonated across the galaxies. Everyone heard it. Everyone knows The rockets are bringing them back. The Ood are coming home.”

Sigma looked at them and said,

“We thank you, Doctor Donna Iris, friends of Oodkind. And what of you now? Will you stay? There is room in the song for you.”

The Doctor blushed a little as he said, “Oh, I’ve, I’ve sort of got a song of my own, thanks.”

Sigma stayed silent for a few seconds before saying, “I think yours and Iris’ song must end soon.”

The Doctor flinched as he asked warily, “Meaning?”

He glanced back at Iris, who hadn’t heard anything and was discussing things with Ryder.

Sigma vaguely responded back with, “Every song must end.”

The Doctor took the hint and looked over at Donna, asking her,

“Yeah. Er, what about you? You still want to go home?”

Donna smiled softly as she said, “No, definitely not.”

The Doctor smiled widely at that, happy to take her on another adventure as he said,

“The we’ll be off.”

Sigma said, “Take this song with you.”

Iris came up to them with Ryder as she appreciatively said, “We will.”

The Doctor added on, “Always.”

Sigma then said, “And know this, Doctor Donna Iris. You will never be forgotten. Our children will sing of the Doctor Donna Iris, and our children’s children, and the wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever.”

With that the trio went into the TARDIS and Ryder gasped as he saw the TARDIS dematerialize in front of his eyes.

Inside the TARDIS, Iris had taken off her coat and sighed in relief. “Oh I’m exhausted.”

The Doctor looked over at her while fidgeting with the console and asked, “How are you feeling?”

Iris looked back at him with exhaustion clearly written on her face as she honestly replied with,

“Better. But that was rough.”

Iris bit her lower lip as she thought a little bit and the Doctor waited, feeling the hesitation behind her thoughts through their bond. Iris then looked back at him and said,

“Can you drop me off at Torchwood?”

The Doctor’s face fell slightly and Iris choked out, “It’s not for good! I just need to see Jack and my team for a bit. Maybe you can come back and pick me up again?”

The Doctor smiled and then said, “Always!”

Iris laughed and said, “Then old man, drop me off so I can annoy Jack!”

The Doctor laughed back as he set the destination. Once they landed, Iris said goodbye to Donna and the Doctor before stepping out and walking towards the Hub.

She turned around just in time to see the TARDIS dematerialize and smiled. She turned back around and walked towards the Hub. When she entered the Hub, the alarm rang out like normal and she stepped in.

She looked around when her smile faded and found the Hub empty and dark. It was as if something had happened and the Hub was abandoned.

Chapter Text

Jack walked into the Hub and paused as he saw Iris giggling with Ianto by her desk before he said, “Class D artefacts. Iris, I need you to run a full check.”

Iris separated a little from Ianto’s grasp and said, “Sure.”

Ianto pecked her cheek before whispering to her, “Later.”

Iris blushed severely before hitting Ianto’s arm, but decided to go check out the artefact that Jack mentioned. She needed to get that thing sorted out so that she could go out with Ianto.

As the two people walked to do their own individual work, Jack’s eyes trailed after Iris’ form. He sighed out as he felt his heart ache a little. Pressing it down, he headed towards his office when he saw Owen watching Tosh longingly, knowing that exact feeling at the moment. But he just said,

“Owen, you can help Tosh.”

Owen nodded and said, “Happy to.”

He then looked at the young man with dirty blonde hair and leather jacket lounging at his desk and said,

“Adam, I know how much you love audits.”

Adam turned around and smiled gently as he said, “It’s got to be done.”

Jack nodded and said, “If you could.”

Adam rolled his eyes and chirped, “Go through the investigation reports, find out when they might have come through the Rift.”

Jack arched an eyebrow and asked, “You okay with that?”

Gwen arrived to the Hub and saw a stranger shrug as he said, “I have been for the last three years.”

Frowning at the sight, Gwen saw Jack look up at her and say, “You’re late.”

Gwen rolled her eyes at him and said, “Yes, Paris was lovely, thank you.”

She then really saw Adam and frowned as she automatically asked, “Who the hell is this?”

Adam sarcastically said, “Just because that’s what I said to you on your first day.”

With that, he gripped Gwen’s shoulder and looked into her eyes as he asked, “Remember?’ jokingly.

Gwen blinked a bit, remembering all those moments with him and just laughed as she said, “Sorry, couldn’t resist. Come here, you. Good to see you.”

Gwen hugged Adam when Gwen also spotted Tosh who looked at the two warily and said, “Hey, Tosh, you’re looking good.”

Later, Gwen went to say hi to everyone. She saw Ianto and Iris talking in the archives and frowned as Ianto pecked Iris’ lips before full on kissing her. Something felt odd, when she just shook it off. Maybe she wasn’t feeling as great as she had thought.

And then she looked back up to see Iris’ hands in Ianto’s hair as they kissed and blushed before turning away and walking back up to meet others.

Iris moaned a little as she pulled away from the kiss and felt her back hit one of the shelves in the archives as Ianto started giving his attention to her neck.

“Ianto, I have to work…” Iris whined, not able to keep a straight thought.

Ianto groaned a little, his head still nestled by her neck, causing Iris to shiver in excitement. Ianto smiled a little at that small reaction before pulling himself away and straightening Iris out a little before doing the same for himself as he smiled warmly. Iris laughed a little in nervousness as she saw the little look of smugness in Ianto’s eyes.

She pecked Ianto’s lips once before heading back up. When she came up, she ran into Jack, who looked at her, causing Iris to look at him with concern as she said,

“Jack? Are you alright?”

Jack came to from his thoughts of longing and smiled as if nothing was wrong. “I’m alright.”

Iris looked at him, sadness reflected in her eyes as she said, “Jack, I wish things were different, but I love Ianto and you know that…”

Jack looked guilty and he said, “Don’t worry, I won’t repeat that mistake ever again.”

Iris smiled and said, “I’m going to continue working on that artifact you assigned me.”

Jack nodded and saw Iris walk away, thinking back to that one special night that he and Iris shared. But as Iris approached the rest of the team, Tosh said,

“Just doing a quick check. We had Rift activity two days ago, but nothing seems to have come through.”

Suddenly, a squeaky toy appeared around the side of a monitor and Tosh looked up a little annoyed as Owen squeaked out “Apart from me.”

Tosh looked at the toy with surprise as she asked him, “What’s that?”

Owen blushed and smiled shyly as he said, “It’s a screen cleaner. I thought you might like it. Er, do you? Do you like it?”

Tosh just looked at it and then said,

“Just what I need. A small rodent looking at me while I work. Think I’ll call it Owen.”

Iris shook her head in disappointment. She really wished Tosh was nicer to the man, but it seemed that Tosh was cold towards mostly everyone but Adam.

Gwen whispered out, “He’s like a puppy bringing her sticks. When he’s gonna realize he’s got no chance?”

Ianto put his head on top of Iris’ and hugged her from behind as he said, “Love’s blind, apparently. He’s idolized her for years now.”

Gwen just looked at Ianto and smiled as he nuzzled himself closer to the other woman as Adam just smiled and said,

“Oh, leave him alone. I think it’s sweet. He’s happy.”

And like that, the day uneventfully passed and Iris stayed a little later working on the artifact, frustrated that she couldn’t quite grasp why she wasn’t able to get through with this. She stared at it with great frustration and felt as if she should know what this was. But she wasn’t able to grasp it and sighed as she brushed her hair using her fingers.

Puffing air into her cheeks, she pouted and took her glasses off, feeling beat when Ianto came in and asked,

“Tough time?”

Iris looked up at him and said exhaustedly, “Yeah. I feel like I know what this is, but something is blocking me from really getting the answer.”

Ianto kissed her cheek as he said, “You’ll find the answer eventually. Don’t overdo it. I know that you normally don’t do much until you find the answer, but please, don’t overwork yourself and forget to take care of yourself.”

Iris smiled at that and leaned into him and said, “Isn’t that why you’re here for me?”

Ianto smiled back as he said, “Always.”

Iris then turned around slightly as she pecked him a little. Ianto smiled wider and then gripped her hips and brought her closer as he leaned in and kissed her fully. Iris gripped his shirt and brought him even closer and moaned a little as it rapidly turned passionate. Taking his chance, he slipped his tongue in and the kiss deepened even more. When Iris finally ran out of breath, Iris pulled away and smiled.

Everything was perfect. Iris couldn’t have been happier. But the moment was short-lived as they heard a commotion of Jack bringing in a terrified Gwen to the Hub. Frowning, Iris got up and separated herself from Ianto. Making sure that she looked presentable, she headed down to the Autopsy room and approached Owen as she asked nicely,

“What’s happening?”

Owen looked at her and said comfortably, “It seems that Gwen has forgotten about her fiancé.”

Iris looked at the man and then frowned as she felt a sensation like she was looking through a veil. It was definitely Rhys, but there was something she was missing. Upon Jack’s arrival with Rhys to the Hub however, Iris shirked that feeling off of herself once again and helped Owen check on Gwen.

Once they were done, Owen and Iris shared a perplexed look as Owen said,

“Right. Well, no signs of long-term damage, as far as I can see. Or alien intervention. But, I must be missing something. I’m sorry, but it’s a mystery to me why you can’t remember Rhys.”

Iris shivered slightly as if something was trying to break through. Ianto saw and asked, “Are you cold?”

Iris shook her head and said, “No… it’s just that… never mind. I thought I felt a sensation of déjà vu.”

Ianto looked at her and shrugged as he said, “Happens to me from time to time. I’m sure it’s nothing.”

Ianto then turned around as he was cleaning up the area and said, “Oh, and I will drop Gwen off back at her house. Then I will pick Jack up and come back to the Hub to do some more organization. Jack seems to have forgotten where to put some of the files… again.”

Iris nodded and went to go analyze that mystery box. While looking at it with Owen, Tosh came along and asked,

“Worked out what that thing is yet?”

Owen blushed at her, but calmly said, “No joy yet. But you should have a look at the detail too, Tosh. It’s gorgeous. Oh, let me get that.”

Tosh looked at Iris then, ignoring Owen and asked “Have you managed to open it yet?”

Iris frowned and said, “No, not yet. Sorry, but there’s something that’s preventing us from opening it. I feel like there’s supposed to be a key that we’re missing to this box.”

Tosh sighed in frustration and Owen looked flustered as Tosh said, “It’s gonna be a long night.”

Owen then said, “Yes, which is why I’ve brought some sandwiches. One for you, one for Iris and one for me. Smoked salmon, that is your favorite, isn’t it?”

Tosh looked decently surprised at that and asked, “How’d you know that?” and after a pregnant pause, Tosh stood up as she said, “I’m gonna need a beer.”

Owen stuttered as he said, “What, while we’re working? Oh, yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, right. Relax, kick back, it’s a good idea. Er, not for me though, thanks.”

Iris looked at Owen sympathetically upon his realization that Tosh had already left the room. She patted him on the shoulder as she said,

“Don’t worry too much about it. If anything, I think you’re a great guy Owen.”

Owen smiled gratefully at her as he said, “Yeah, but I wish she would at least not treat me like I’m non-existent.”

Iris sighed and started munching on the sandwich. Upon taking a bite, she looked up at him in shock as she swallowed her mouthful and said,

“Owen! Why did you never tell us you were a brilliant cook?”

Owen blushed as he said, “I thought it didn’t look cool…”

Iris shook her head as she glared at him and said, “No, there’s nothing wrong with being a bloody, brilliant chef. I hate you… all those take-outs that I had to force down… no way. Can you pack me lunch from time to time? Or at least teach me how to make this? I don’t think I can ever go back to greasy Chinese food.”

Owen laughed and said, “Sure, I’ll teach you the recipe. Only for you Iris.”

Iris laughed and hugged him before saying, “Let’s eat and get back to work. This box is killing me.”

Owen nodded as he grabbed his sandwich and smiled at the close friendship he shared with Iris. If anything, Iris always supported him through all the tough times he had. They shared a lot of things with each other and it really helped. Owen was glad when Jack had hired Iris in place of Suzie alongside with Gwen.

But soon enough, Tosh returned with three bottles of beer. Iris grimaced but Tosh looked at the duo and said,

“Go on. Live a little.”

Owen nervously said, “Well, as it’s you. Thank you.”

He took the beer and opened it as Iris took hers and opened the bottle, but seemed hesitant about it as she sniffed the contents and grimaced even more.

Tosh ignored her reaction as she cheerfully said, “Call it a celebration.”

Iris and Owen looked up at her in surprise. Owen managed a, “Oh yes?”

While Tosh blushed a little and admitted, “Adam and I have been together for one year today.”

Iris looked at Owen, who looked crestfallen at that. Tosh really needed to get her priorities straight, but she didn’t want to leave Owen alone, so she remained silent and Owen just muttered,

“Right, right.”

Tosh appeared to be daydreaming a little as she said, “A whole year. My stomach still flips when he touches me. I’ve never known anything like it. The two of us, we just fit. Do you know what I mean?”

With that Tosh looked at Iris, who was only able to nod while Owen just looked even more devastated before hiding it and replied with,

“Er, not sure I do, no.”

Tosh looked at him and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll meet the right girl on day.”

Owen didn’t say anything for a few seconds and then whispered out, “Yeah, Tosh… Er, do you really think I look like a rodent?”

But Tosh once again ignored his question and Iris frowned as she said,

“Come on, we’re going to crack this box even if it kills us.”

After three hours, they were still in the conference room and the trio looked frustrated. Tosh angrily looked at the box as she spit out,

“So, according to the molecular breakdown, this potentially alien complex artifact is, in fact, made out of wood.”

Owen frowned and said, “Well, perhaps it fell in the crate by mistake. Picked up meson energy from the other stuff.”

Tosh seemed to just wave it off as she said, “Yeah, right.”

Iris kept reading the results over and over again in frustration and that weird sense of déjà vu kept creeping up on her while Owen apologized,

“Oh, yes. Sorry, it’s a stupid idea.”

Ianto then came in to join them, noticing how Iris seemed to be bothered about something as he said, “I think Jack brought it in.”

Tosh frowned and said, “No, I’m sure Adam found it on an excavation a few months back.”

Ianto frowned at that while Iris looked up to see how perplexed he seemed to be at that statement and said, “I’ll have a look in the diary. I like to log in the interesting stuff.”

Iris stood up while Tosh asked, “You write about artifacts in your diary?”

Ianto smirked at Iris and said, “Among other things.”

Iris shook her head as she said, “I’ll go with you.”

With that, the two headed up towards the Hub. Ianto grabbed his diary and started reading. Iris looked over his shoulder and frowned. Something was off. Ianto looked up in realization that something was terribly wrong and saw how Iris seemed to be thinking the same thing. Suddenly, Adam was by them as he asked the two,

“What’s wrong?”

Iris looked up and shivered a little. As if Adam was the source of the problem that they now seemed to be facing.

Ianto however, must not have noticed as he admitted,

“My diary. You’re not in it. Everyone else is. Why would I leave you out when you’ve been here so long? Like I’m remembering a man who doesn’t exist.”

Adam dropped the diary as his hand flickered. Iris noticed this and looked back at the diary before looking up at him. Ianto grasped Iris’ hand and backed themselves away from him as he warily asked,

“What are you?”

Adam said, “Cross me, and I will fill you full of fake memories until your head is on fire, because that’s how I exist.”

Iris tensed at this as if it all made sense, but then she grimaced as something brought her memories full-force. The pain. The drumming. Then the wrangling panic from someone. Someone she knew. But she wasn’t sure who.

Ianto did not notice this and asked, “Gwen? What did you do to her?”

Adam smirked evilly as he said, “Memory is a very delicate thing. Feeding myself in wiped other memories out. It’s a side effect of what I have to do in order to survive.”

Iris was still struggling as she kept remembering the real memories, but it conflicted with the memories Adam had given her and the pain of the memories battling each other was starting to show as Iris started to blanch in realization of something.

Ianto felt Iris tense further and pushed her behind him as he said, “Jack has to know.”

Suddenly, Adam grasped Ianto and Iris’ shoulders with each of his hands and commanded, “Remember this.”

Ianto saw visions of him attacking various women as Adam kept pushing these fake memories to him. Iris on the other hand, was struggling with all her might as she pleaded,

“Please, stop.”

When Ianto screamed and fainted, Adam then gave his full attention to Iris, who shook from fear of the fake memories he had put into Ianto. Adam then looked a little perplexed before stating,

“Something’s fighting in you. You remember don’t you?”

Iris frowned when she suddenly heard a distant “Iris!!!”. It was a man’s voice. She felt panic, fear, anger all at once. When she looked up at Adam, it finally hit her with the last of her real memories as some type of force helped her through this. Iris stopped shaking when she finally realized who it was in her mind. It was the Doctor. Somehow, she could hear him in her mind calling out to her.

With that, she glared at Adam, who still gripped her shoulders before twisting herself and sending Adam to the ground, stating,

“I remember all right you psychotic memory jerk!”

Adam laughed and taunted her, “Oh, but don’t you see? I put you with Ianto! The guilt in Jack, your conflict of interest for the two men, and Ianto’s pure love for you? I sorted it out for you, built the perfect relationship for you all.”

Iris blanched and grew angry at that, but Adam gripped her wrists as he said, “And now remember this!”

Iris saw various memories of her with Ianto, and struggled against it when everything suddenly turned black. But before she gave herself to the darkness, she heard the Doctor scream out,

“Iris hold on!”

…..

Ianto blinked a couple times as he tried to clear the black spots in his line of sight. When everything cleared, he blanched at the memories that haunted him. The urge to do all those horrible deeds again. And when he turned his head to the side, time seemed to stop as he saw Iris writhing in pain and whimpering, unconscious.

But what was worse was that he felt that urge to harm her intensify as he stared at her. Battling with his urges, he stood up and walked away from her, horrified. Memories clashed. Nothing was clear anymore. What had he done? Had he hurt Iris or was it Adam? He continued to walk backwards when Jack walked in.

Ianto looked up at him and whispered, “Jack.”

Jack, upon seeing the Welsh man’s pale face, instantly grew wary as he asked, “Ianto. Hey. What’s wrong?”

Ianto looked back at Iris’ unconscious form as he said, “You have to put me in the vaults. Lock me up. I killed three girls. Strangled them.”

Disbelievingly, Jack said, “Stop kidding around.” But that was when he followed Ianto’s line of sight and saw the unconscious form of Iris on the ground. His heart clenched and horror overtook him as he ran towards Iris and held her up as he gently shook her. She was clearly in pain and he looked back up at Ianto in horror as Ianto whispered,

“I’m serious. I murdered them in cold blood. I took their bodies, and… You have to lock me away before I turn on you and kill Iris. None of you are safe.”

Jack didn’t know what to think. He couldn’t believe it. If anything, there was no way Ianto would hurt Iris like this. Something was terribly wrong. The mysterious memory recollection of his brother Gray?

Jack stood up after he gently put Iris back down as he said, “Hey, hey, come here, come here.”

Ianto shook his head, not trusting himself to not lunge towards Iris if he got closer, so Jack approached him as he asked,

“What happened to you?”

Ianto shivered as he said in despair, “I’m a monster.”

Jack led Ianto to his office and set an alien polygraph machine. Jack muttered,

“Best lie detector on the planet. If something’s untrue, the light turns red. Go.”

Ianto choked out, “My hands on her throat. And it felt so good. Squeezing the life out of her. It reads as truth.”

Jack dubiously looked at the machine and shook his head, not wanting to believe it as he said,

“I don’t believe it. Okay, tell me about the second girl.”

Jack saw Ianto hauntingly smile a little as he admitted, “She tried to get away, but I was too quick. Pleading, and I, I didn’t care Something in me wants to kill.”

Jack shook his head. This wasn’t normal. Something was off. Out loud, he looked up with a new determination as he said,

“No, this is not you. Something’s changed you. You’re not a murderer. I’m certain of it.”

With that, he left his office before heading over to see Iris come to. Iris groaned out loud before standing up, panicking.

Jack helped her up when Iris looked up at him and whispered out with despair, “Jack. Oh God… what have I done?”

Jack frowned as he asked, “What happened?”

Iris clamored towards her desk and turned the internal CCTV recording on to the moment and watched intensely, they saw what happened. Jack froze as he heard Iris in the recording say,

“I remember all right you psychotic memory jerk!”

“What happened?” Jack asked.

Iris grimaced and said, “This is an episode. I didn’t realize that this would affect me this deeply too.”

Without saying anything, Jack walked over and brought Ianto over as he gently said, “Come here, come here. Just look, look.”

Ianto tensed up and leaned heavily into Jack. He watched the recording and relaxed as his head became a little bit clearer. When it all ended, Iris looked up at the two men and wasn’t sure what to think. Was her feelings for Ianto all a lie? It didn’t feel like it, but then her feelings for Jack was clearly there too. What was wrong with her?

Silently, she walked over to the Autopsy room and started digging around for Adam’s blood sample.

Jack realized what she was looking for and joined in. He noticed that something was bothering Iris a lot, but decided to talk to her about it afterwards. Setting this ordeal straight came first. Ianto looked up at the computer screen then at Iris as he grimaced. Was his relationship with her a lie? Was it really a lie like Adam said? No, he didn’t want to lose her. But if he let Adam stay, it would lead to disastrous results. Pressing down his sadness at the realization that he would lose her, he pulled up Adam’s personnel file.

Ianto frowned as he said out loud, “Everything’s in order here.”

Jack looked up and asked, “When was it last updated?”

Ianto said, “Er, 24 hours ago.”

Suddenly, they heard the Hub door open and saw Owen coming in with a large bouquet of beautifully arranged flowers. They all froze as he put them on Tosh’s workstation. He stared at them and frowned but Tosh came in when she noticed the flowers.

“Oh, Owen.”

Owen looked to the ground and said, “About last night. It was selfish of me.”

Iris shared a look with Jack, who noticed how she just whispered, “There’s no blood sample.”

They all heard Owen apologize and Tosh smiled a little at that as she said,

“Thank you.”

Then, Gwen came in and Tosh asked,

“Hey, how are you today?”

Gwen shrugged as she responded back with, “Things are coming back, slowly. Rhys thought I shouldn’t come into work but-”

Adam interrupted her with, “Hey, we’ll look after you. You just have to give yourself time. Come on, group hug. That’s better, see?”

With that, Adam looked up at Ianto. Ianto flinched at the sudden attention and Jack and Iris immediately grew wary about everything. They shared a look before Iris got closer to Ianto.

Adam continued on with, “Hey Ianto, come here. You alright, mate?”

Ianto flinched away and he grasped Iris’ hand. Noticing this, Adam smirked as he said,

“Listen, I could murder a coffee.”

Iris grasped Ianto’s hand tighter at that and backed both of them away as Jack cocked his revolver at the back of Adam’s head. Adam’s smirk immediately fell as Jack said,

“Talk to me, Adam. If that’s even your name.”

Adam quickly put on a confused face as he asked, “What?”

Gwen, Tosh and Owen jumped in shock at the sudden development and Gwen stomped towards Jack when Iris held her back. Looking frustrated, but noticing the look in Iris’ eyes, Gwen asked,

“What are you doing Jack?”

Jack looked at the rest of his team as he said, “He’s not who you think he is. He’s been feeding himself into our memories by touch.”

Tosh looked horrified at Jack as she yelled out. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

Jack shook his head as he said, “He didn’t exist until two days ago.”

Adam looked pleadingly at Tosh as he demanded, “Can somebody tell me what’s going on, please?”

Owen stepped up and said, “Jack, we’ve known him for years. He is part of the team.”

Iris shook her head and said, “No. He just made you think that. He’s not human. He’s been altering all of our lives.”

Adam just laughed nervously as he said, “Come on, Jack, Iris.”

Jack pressed his gun on Adam’s head a bit more and warned him with, “Ah, ah. You don’t get to me like that”

Adam pressed on, “Jack, you know me. You recruited me three years ago.”

Jack shook his head and said darkly, “All I know is, when I think of my team, I see you there. But I don’t feel anything for you. No pride, no warmth. You, the one who I can confide in, the one who unburied the dead.”

Gwen looked disbelievingly at the situation around her but said, “Jack, maybe you’ve just forgotten him, like I did with Rhys, yeah?”

Iris shook her head and said, “No, that was all Adam’s fault.”

Gwen looked at Iris in shock as she realized when all that had happened. It had happened after Adam had touched her and she stumbled a little at that realization as she muttered, “Oh God.”

Iris let go of Gwen and warily approached Ianto again.

Jack followed it up with, “I should have spotted it then. That wasn’t stress, that was him. By making us think we know him, he disturbs our real memories.”

Adam shook his head as he yelled out in panic, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Jack then hoisted Adam up and prevented him from running as he said, “I’m taking him to the Vaults.”

Adam struggled as he said, “Jack, this is ridiculous!”

But Tosh and Owen were the only ones that looked horrified at the situation playing in front of them. Adam realized that the majority of the team were already prepared to get rid of him. Jack threatened him with,

“Move”

Tosh then yelled out “No!” With that, Tosh pulled her gun out and aimed it at Jack. Iris immediately drew her gun out and aimed at Tosh. Ianto and Gwen were surprised but didn’t do anything.

Owen stepped up to diffuse the situation as he tried to coax Tosh out of her anger as he said, “Tosh, that’s not going to help.”

Iris looked over at Adam and said, “If there is any part of you that truly cares for Tosh, go down to the Vaults.”

Adam looked over at Iris, measuring her up when he realized that the look she gave him indicated that she would really shoot her if he didn’t comply. He stopped struggling and Jack noticed this. But Tosh hadn’t as she still muttered,

“Let him go.”

Jack said, “I’m not going to harm him.”

Tosh cried out, “Why should I believe you?”

Owen tried to make Tosh lower her gun as he said, “Tosh, Tosh, we can talk about this.”

Tosh aimed her gun at Jack again as she demanded, “Drop the gun, Jack!”

But she dropped her gun as she felt an impact hit her wrist. Owen quickly grabbed her and prevented her from lunging at the source as Tosh saw how Ianto had snuck up on her and had forced her to drop the gun.

Tosh struggled against the two men as she cried out, “No! Get off me!”

Jack angrily stared at Adam and growled out, “This is what you’ve done to us. Move!”

With that he forced Adam down towards the Vault while Tosh kept screaming out, “No, Adam!”

Iris clenched her eyes shut as she felt her heart break at the heartbroken screams Tosh made. Gwen still looked confused, but she noticed the way Iris seemed to struggle from things of her own and all she could do was,

“Oh, God, what happened to us?”

They all waited for Jack to come up. Tosh had fallen to her knees as her legs gave out a moment ago from all that struggling. Owen hugged her tight, not letting go. Ianto walked over to Iris, noticing how she looked up at him with eyes filled with sadness.

“If this is all fixed and we have to forget this happened, what will happen to us?”

Tears slipped down Iris’ cheeks as she hugged him and nestled closer as she whispered out,

“I’d be back with Jack. Maybe oblivious to everything we had shared.”

Ianto hugged her tight and then pulled away as he forced a smile and wiped her tears away. Iris looked up at him and put her hand on his cheek, which he gladly relaxed towards. They looked at each other, desperate to share this one moment before everything ended.

They both leaned into each other, feeling their lips meld. The kiss started out slow, wanting to memorize this one moment and sear it to their brains forever. But it quickly escalated as it became that much more desperate. But eventually, the need for air forced them to separate and both just hugged each other silently.

“Even if we forget, I hope that we won’t be distant with each other.”

Iris cried silently as she hoped for the same. The moments she shared with Ianto was short, but it changed her so much. They stayed like that when Jack came up and saw how the pair looked determined yet sad. Without much words, he said, “Come to the conference room.”

The team followed and Iris and Ianto held hands until they finally sat down next to each other. Once everyone was settled in, Jack said,

“Our memories define us. Adam changed those memories. Changed who we are. Now I have to help you all go back, find a memory that defines you. Rediscover who you are. If I’m wrong, he’ll still be here when we’ve done this. Let me take you back to before we all met.”

Jack clicked something on, almost like a hypnotic image, and said, “Feel around for anything that makes you what you are. The hidden and forgotten. Tell me where you are.”

Gwen whispered out, “The college canteen. Rhys is sitting opposite me, telling stupid jokes.”

Owen then joined as he distantly said, “It’s my birthday. Mum spends the whole day screaming. But I love you because you’re my son but that doesn’t me I have to like you.”

Tosh said, “Maths club. Something so reliable about maths. Always the right answer.”

Ianto choked out, “Meeting Lisa. Falling in love. Never felt so alive.”

Iris whispered, “Me going down the stairs when I was in third grade, so exhausted, so tired. So ready to accept my fate.”

With that, everyone continued to recount their memories as Jack said, “Take this.”

Jack went to each individual and gave them the small white pill that would help them forget. Jack heard Iris then say,

“Coming here. It changed my life just like it did Ianto’s. Meeting you two? He keeps me sane, keeps me grounded. You? You make me feel so alive…”

Jack saw a tear slip down from Iris’ eye and he wiped it as he rubbed her shoulders and said,

“I will always love you.”

Iris smiled bitterly before looking at the pill Jack had given her, hearing him say,

“You each have short term amnesia pill. It’ll make you forget Adam. We have to wipe out the last 48 hours from our memories. Go back to who we were.”

Iris and Ianto simultaneously took their pills while everyone else followed. Iris felt herself drift off as she lastly held Ianto’s hand, needing him one last time.

…..

Iris blinked as she opened her eyes. She noticed that she was the first to be awake and looked over at Ianto, grabbing his hand a little tighter. The image of Adam, the things she had been fed was all gone. But some things remained. Her love for Ianto, the memories that really happened the past two days between them, that was the only thing that remained. Tears slipped as she realized what this meant. Slipping her hand out, she went down to the Vaults and looked at Jack, who had slipped into a deep sleep from the amnesia pill.

But unable to bear much, she went back up to find the team doing their work, not sure what was going on. Iris joined in and started deleting all the CCTV recordings of the past two days. Nobody should remember. Then she took the artifact and filed it away, giving strict orders for nobody to open it at any cost, and if possible, to destroy it.

Once that was done, she headed towards her desk in the Hub when she heard Gwen say,

“Jack, how have we lost two days?”

Jack looked surprised as he asked, “What do you mean?”

Ianto looked at the man and said, “The last 48 hours. None of us can remember a thing and the CCTV recordings have been wiped.”

Tosh nodded asking, “What’s been going on? What have we been doing?”

Jack shrugged as he honestly replied with, “I don’t know.”

They all looked towards Iris, who anxiously said, “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

Most of the team went back to work but Ianto and Jack frowned as they noticed how Iris was fidgeting with her fingers, a clear sign of her lying.

Jack sighed as the team spent the rest of his day as if everything was normal. But afterwards, Jack called Iris over to his office.

Iris walked in and asked, “You called for me?”

Jack said, “I’ll drop you off.”

Iris nodded and headed for the range rover. When they finally arrived at her place, Iris felt as if her heart was going to burst out of her chest as she wasn’t sure what to say. The car ride was tense and silent the entire way as Jack didn’t say anything and neither did she.

Iris opened her door and invited him. Jack followed her in and closed the door when he finally asked her,

“You remember everything don’t you.”

Iris froze in the middle of her living room. Her eyes suddenly found the floor interesting and Jack stepped in front of her and lifted her face with his hands, softly holding either side of her head.

He saw confusion and turmoil in her eyes and heard Iris whisper, “Not everything. But some.”

“And?” He asked gently.

Iris looked at him, not sure what to feel and said, “Those two days, I was forced to believe I loved Ianto. That instead of you, it was Ianto all along.”

Jack flinched and he realized what she was thinking. “You’re blaming yourself and feeling guilty about it?”

Iris nodded. But Jack didn’t let her go, noticing something else and said, “And?”

“I don’t know what I feel Jack… I love you, that I know… but Ianto? It’s as if I need you and him… and this… this…”

Jack looked at her eyes as tears spilled down before kissing her. Iris spilled more tears as she desperately kissed the man in front of her. Unable to hold back, she took his trench coat off of him and pushed him towards the wall behind him.

Jack felt the wall behind him and quickly went to her neck, hearing Iris moan a little trying to take her mind off of the ordeal. But as if waking up from a trance, Iris pulled herself away from him, panting, lust clearly in her eyes.

“We shouldn’t… I-”

Jack stopped her as he said, “It’s not wrong.”

Iris’ eyes widened as she asked, “How?”

Jack smiled at her and said, “I always knew a bit of you loved him. And if it’s any consolation with you, I do too.”

Iris’ eyes widened even further, grasping the man’s arms tightly and then the pause caused Jack to smirk a little as Iris blushed a bright red from embarrassment. Her mouth gaped as she tried to find words to say, but Jack laughed at how adorable she looked before switching their positions.

Iris looked at him again in surprise. But she felt the time stop around her as Jack’s intense eyes caught her attention once more. Her eyes then fluttered shut as his lips met hers in a slow kiss.

The kiss sent shivers down her back, unlike the warmth from Ianto’s and caused her to moan, allowing Jack to slip his tongue in. When she came up for air, he immediately went back to her neck as he slipped her coat off of her and then Iris put her arms around him unable to separate herself from him. Her breath was becoming ragged as Jack caused her to feel new sensations.

Jack hoisted her up while Iris wrapped her legs around him. They kissed again as Jack opened her bedroom door and put her down as they started unclothing each other. Iris was in her bra and underwear when Jack pulled away slightly and looked her up and down, causing her to feel even more aroused than before, if that was possible.

Jack then came up to her and kissed her deeply again as he muttered, “I love you.”

Iris couldn’t respond back, as she felt his hands touching her sensitive spots as he drove her crazy. Iris’ fingers went through his hair as she was unable to keep herself in check anymore.

Iris felt her back collide with the bed when she looked up at Jack as he looked down at her, panting, uncontrollable lust emanating from his own as it reflected her body.

She whispered, “I love you…”

And saw Jack smile widely as he crashed his lips down to hers as their body melded together that night, sending both individuals over the edge multiple times.

Chapter Text

Iris woke up from the sunlight that came through the window. Blinking a few times to adjust her eyes, she later managed to open them and look next to her and smiled warmly. Jack was lying next to her and she couldn’t have been happier at that moment. It was strange really, about Jack admitting his love for Ianto and describing it after they had finished their round of passion the night before.

But it made sense. Jack had developed feelings for the man before her arrival. It was just that she had somehow weaseled her way into both of the men’s hearts and Jack somehow got to her first. And as she looked at Jack, she never realized how peaceful he appeared. He was always serious or nonchalant about everything, flirting at anything that breathed. She continued to stare at him until she saw him shift to avoid the sunlight.

Smiling at that desperate move to sleep more, she carefully got up as to not wake him up and headed towards the bathroom to shower. Once she was done, Jack had gotten up and was sitting on the bed as he looked at her covering herself with a towel.

“Good morning.” He said, still looking a bit tired, but smirking nonetheless.

Rolling her eyes, she just went to her closet and said, “Get washed up, we still have work to do.”

Jack groaned as he realized what she meant. They had paperwork they had to deal with. Nodding with trepidation of the sheer amount of work he was about to do back at the Hub, he went to wash up.

The moment he went in, Iris checked her phone to see if she got any calls and found that she didn’t. Concerned, she called the Doctor. After about one ring however, the Doctor picked up and immediately yelled out,

“Iris! You’re alright! Thank goodness… I was getting concerned.”

Iris frowned as she asked him, “What?”

The Doctor was in the TARDIS as he had been fixing the console a bit before frowning and asked,

“Don’t you remember last night? I felt something akin to your memories being shifted all over the place and I wasn’t sure if you were in a good situation. Then you started panicking and I reached out to you. I didn’t mean to advance the bond…”

Iris’ eyes bulged as she yelled out once more, “WHAT?!”

The Doctor just realized what he had said and he stuttered out, “uhh…. I might have advanced the bond?”

Iris sighed out and pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration as she cautiously asked, “And what should have changed since you oh so politely advanced the bond between us without asking?”

The Doctor winced at that tone and he said, “Well, now I can feel your emotions a bit more clearly and we can talk to each other via our bond…”

Iris grew so silent and still that the Doctor stopped what he was doing and waited, guilt building up more and more while Jack walked into the living room to awkwardly stare at her growing anger.

Jack eventually broke the silence with, “Uh… what happened?”

Iris glared at him and Jack flinched. Even though Iris was tiny, when she outwardly expressed her anger like that, it spelled trouble. With that, he said,

“Sorry Doc… You’re on your own.”

The Doctor grimaced and Iris’ anger flared and she tersely said, “We need to talk later.”

The Doctor said, “Alright… uh… I’ll talk to you later.”

Iris sighed and said, “You’re not in trouble, but we need to set some rules about this. Seriously.”

The Doctor nodded before realizing that Iris wasn’t there and said, “Sure. Alright.”

Iris smiled and said, “until later Doctor.”

With that, she ended the phone call and tried out the bond and said through it, Don’t try anything funny now.

The Doctor jolted at that, not used to having another voice come into his mind like that. Blushing a little, he heard Iris laugh through the bond before grumbling a little. But eventually, Iris left him alone and he sighed out in relief.

Meanwhile, Jack was in the kitchen, cooking them breakfast when he heard Iris come in and prepare the coffee. Jack looked over and asked.

“What was all that about?”

Iris shook her head and said, “We can say a certain Time Lord decided to advance our bond to the point that I can talk to him without calling him on a phone.”

Jack tensed a little and asked cautiously, “Are you alright with that?”

Iris glanced at him and sighed as she said, “Well, there’s no way around it. And it’s not too bad when I shut him out.”

Jack dropped the waffles onto the plates as he said, “Oh? And was that what happened last night?”

Iris blushed as she shoved Jack a little in embarrassment. “Shut up will you? I’m going to scold him later in person, so don’t do anything funny.”

Jack chuckled and saluted her with, “Yes ma’am.”

Iris glared at him playfully as she just started pouring coffee into their cups before they ate their breakfast. Once they were done, they had gone to the Hub straight away, when they saw Ianto step up from the archives once more and greet them with,

“Good morning sir. Good morning Iris!”

Iris blushed a little upon seeing him before quickly hiding it with, “Hey Ianto!”

Ianto smiled and followed after her and dropped off some paperwork as he briefed her in what she had to do. Iris listened intently when Ianto asked,

“So, uh, how are things with Jack?”

Iris froze and looked up at Ianto again in shock. But she quickly realized that she needed to respond and stuttered to her utter horror

“Uh.. I-I think e…everything is fine.”

Ianto raised an eyebrow at her stuttering, causing Iris to get flustered even more before she just turned around, puffing a cheek in frustration before furiously typing up the paperwork she had to do.

Ianto was a little confused at her reaction before he went to Jack’s office with his coffee when Jack looked up at him and smirked.

“She flustered?”

Ianto was surprised at that and asked, “Sir?”

Jack stood up, realizing that he hadn’t heard anything from Iris yet and just shook his head and said, “Nah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for the coffee Yan!”

Ianto looked aghast at that nickname but wasn’t sure what to think about it. He just shook his head at that and decided to think not much of it as he headed down to do some more cleaning up in the archive. That was when Iris sighed and yelled out,

“Ianto! There’s been weevil activity. We have to call Owen and Tosh, they’re the closest to it right now.”

Ianto nodded and went to call the duo. Iris’ eyes followed the Welsh man’s exit and just sighed as she thought back to Jack’s statement last night. But this wasn’t the time for her to think about that. Not yet. She needed to resolve this issue better with Jack at a later time. For now, the Weevil needed to get taken care of.

Iris listened in on Owen and Tosh as they were chasing the Weevil when suddenly Iris heard Owen yell out something that she didn’t quite catch when they heard him whisper in surprise,

 “He’s dead.”

Iris immediately cleared up the paperwork they will need for the man and awaited the pair’s arrival. She cleaned herself up and the autopsy room with Ianto’s help, a solemn air surrounding them. Despite working in Torchwood for a while, Ianto knew that Iris disliked seeing dead people. She never complained, but it was evident from time to time when the woman thought nobody was looking.

Owen and Tosh quietly came in with Jack and Gwen. Jack had gone out to pick up Gwen from her apartment on his way to help bring in the body. Once Jack got settled, he said,

“Are we ready to study this guy?”

Iris nodded and Owen quickly opened up the body bag. He then cleaned himself up while Iris prepared the body for an autopsy. Once Owen was ready, they began looking around the body for any alien signatures. When none of them really seemed to pop up, they then looked for any signs of common street drugs. That did not come up either. They were going to do more when Jack suddenly said,

“Hey, I think I might know someone who might be able to help with this case.”

Iris and the rest of the team looked up at the Captain with surprise when Jack looked at Iris with interest, hoping that she understood his meaning. She just looked at him incredulously for a while when it just dawned on her and her eyes widened. Jack nodded at that and then headed back to his office to call the mystery person over.

Owen turned towards Iris and asked, “Do you know what the hell he’s talking about?”

Iris just smirked and nodded as she took off her gloves and said, “Someone special.”

Owen sighed and just shrugged as he followed suit to take off his own gloves before going back to Tosh.

Iris, Gwen and Ianto observed how Owen talked to Tosh about something, causing the woman to giggle a little bit before suddenly looking back at her screen, as if trying to tune him out, but it was clearly obvious that the woman was blushing.

Gwen then whispered, “Do you reckon that they are together?”

Iris smirked and said, “Oh yeah…. If that’s not flirting right there, I’d be the stupidest person on Earth.”

Ianto smiled a little and he asked humorously, “Oh?”

Iris looked up at the man and blushed a little, “Jack. You know.”

Ianto shook his head and said, “I’m not so sure about me.”

Gwen rolled her eyes and said, “Well, before the whole Iris and Jack thing, it was pretty obvious that you and Jack were an item. We were all betting about when you two would get hitched. Though back then, I have to admit, a part of me was jealous…”

Ianto looked at Gwen with shock written all over his face.

“What did you just say?”

Iris laughed a little and just pat Ianto on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry about it too much Ianto. If anything, you flirt a lot too.”

Ianto’s mouth opened even further at that comment. Iris just realized what she had said and blushed furiously before muttering something about clearing papers and went to her desk, as if she was avoiding the look on Ianto’s face as best as she could.

And afterwards, the day just passed on. Hours passed and Ianto kept on wiping the desk at the tourist information office, thinking back to the sudden change in Iris’ behavior during the day. He was lost, why were Jack and Iris flirting with him all of a sudden?

That was when the door opened and he noticed a woman come in. He hadn’t seen her face and he put on his best apologetic smile as he said,

“Sorry, we’re closing.”

That was when Ianto looked up to see Martha Jones. Ianto just stared at her in surprise before stuttering a little,

“Excuse me, sorry about that ma’am.”

Martha rolled her eyes and laughed out loud as the door opened and said teasingly,

“Just call me Martha. Seriously Ianto, after all that time, do you still struggle with names?”

Ianto just smiled and the two went in for a hug as Ianto said,

“I missed you. The other will be glad to see you again.”

Martha smiled and grabbed her suitcase again as she said, “They’d better.”

In the autopsy room however, Jack, Iris, Owen, Tosh and Gwen were talking about the body when Martha heard Jack say,

“Documents on the body identify the victim as Meredith Roberts.”

Owen shook his head in frustration as he said, “No obvious signs of violence.”

Gwen just looked at the team and asked, “Are we saying it wasn’t the Weevil?”

Owen just rolled his eyes as he defended with, “Give me a chance, Miss Cooper. I’ve only just started.”

Iris looked up to see Ianto standing by and noticed how he pointed behind him. Iris tiptoed and saw who he was talking about. She smiled widely and said,

“We have a visitor Jack. VIP.”

Gwen, Tosh and Owen shared a confused look, but followed the rest of the team, not sure what to expect.

When they got to the Hub, Jack said out loud,

“Suddenly, in an underground mortuary, on a wet night in Cardiff, I hear the song of a nightingale.”

Martha entered the Hub with a large smile and Jack said, “Miss Martha Jones.”

Martha just looked at him and then Iris, measuring the atmosphere before jumping and hugging the both of them tightly as she said, “Oh, it’s good to see you Iris!”

Iris laughed loudly while Jack whined and asked, “What about me?”

Martha just uttered a “hmm…” and shrugged, causing the rest of the team to snigger.

Jack then calmed down as he said, “Toshiko, Owen, Gwen meet Martha.”

Owen looked at Martha warily and asked, “Just a casual visit, or?”

Martha looked at him with indifference and said, “I’m here to complete your postmortem.”

Iris nodded and said, “Doctor Jones is from UNIT.”

Gwen then thought hard and reached out to shake Martha’s hand and said, “Oh, I’m sorry… Sorry, I get a bit confused. Which one’s UNIT?”

Jack answered her with, “Intelligence, military, cute red caps. The acceptable face of intelligence gathering on aliens. We’re more ad hoc, but better looking.”

With that, the team arrived at the Autopsy room. Iris, Owen and Martha prepared for the Autopsy again while the rest stayed at the area above them.

Martha ignored the quip and said to the Torchwood medics, “I identified a pattern from UNIT’s data on sudden deaths. Toxic shock. Nothing to link the victims. Different ages, sexes, ethnic origins, occupations. But there was a statistically significant concentration in South Wales.”

Iris froze at that. How could she have forgotten? It had been so long since they had a case involving an episode. She should have noticed earlier… was her memory failing her now? Everyone had noticed how she froze and Martha asked,

“Iris? Are you alright? You look a little pale?”

Iris looked up, causing Martha to frown and said, “Iris, you alright?”

Iris gulped a little and nodded, not daring to look at Owen. There had to be some way to change this. She had to. She smiled tightly and said,

“I’m fine. Sorry, this happens sometimes. Don’t worry about it.”

Martha quickly glanced at Jack, noticing how the man had gotten concerned but didn’t say much. Martha then nodded while Owen said,

“So what about this pattern, then, Doctor Jones?”

Martha continued with, “They were being written off as suicides or accidents. Look.”

With that, she opened the victim’s eye a bit more for Owen to see. Iris glanced at it and nodded back, indicating that she knew as Iris continued with,

“Puncture mark. Hypodermic needle. You’ll find his bloodstream was pumped full of ammonium hydroxide.”

Owen looked up in surprise as he said, “Yeah, bloodstream. That was the thing I was going to do that next.”

Martha then asked all of the team, “Have you checked his medical records?”

Owen shook his head a little and said, “No. I was just about to.”

Martha replied, smiling a little as she said, “Let’s give I a go. You never know, Owen, you might learn something.”

At that, Owen rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at Martha’s back. Iris saw the childish act and shook her head, smiling. Jack laughed as the rest of the team followed Tosh and Martha, who headed towards the Hub.

Tosh brought the medical records and Owen reads off, “One Meredith Roberts, age 45.”

Tosh added in, “I know there’s been a major crash on the NHS system. Wiped a shedload of files.”

Martha frowned and said, “Including all the victims I flagged up from the UNIT data. And now yours.”

Tosh shook her head as she said, “A computer crash wouldn’t delete data so cleanly. This is deliberate. Let me look into it.”

Martha nodded and headed towards Jack’s office, seeing Jack smiling at her and indicating for her to come in. Iris was with Ianto when Jack said, “Iris! Come here!”

Iris rolled her eyes at that, but smiled brightly, excited to catch up with Martha Jones again. She entered with the UNIT medical officer and settled into the chair by Martha. As Martha sat down, Jack asked,

“How’s the family?”

Martha smiled and gently said, “Getting better. They send their love.”

Jack smiled and said, “Give them ours.” He clapped his hands together, before saying, “So, end of the world Survivors club!”

Martha chuckled and said, “God, I am so glad to see you two!”

Iris smiled back and said, “Likewise. We missed you.”

Jack smiled a little and said, “See, you did come all this way to just see me. It’s the jaw line. Once seen, always yearned for. Iris approved.”

Iris gave him a playful glare, earning a small smile from Martha as the woman shook her head at the man’s antics. Jack then softly asked,

“Do you miss him?”

Martha smiled before shaking her head again as she answered the question with, “No. I made my choice.”

Iris raised an eyebrow at that, causing the doctor to groan and admit, “Maybe sometimes.”

Iris laughed out loud at that and playfully punched the Doctor in the arm and said, “You wouldn’t believe what he says about you sometimes.”

Martha blushed a little before asking, “What? What does he say?”

Iris whistled and shook her head, as if hiding a big secret and said, “Oh, the things he say.”

Jack laughed out loud as he saw Martha grow distressed at the teasing. Martha just whined out, “Please don’t tell me he’s telling some weird story about me.”

Iris then burst out laughing until she calmed down as she said, “No. He says wonderful things about you. Don’t worry.”

Martha blushed even more at that and said, “Oh God. Don’t do that!”

Martha continued with, “But I only miss him a tiny bit. Tiny, tiny. Then I come to my senses again. Anyway, I’ve got plenty to occupy me.”

Jack looked at her with amusement and said, “Oh, yeah, Miss Highfalutin’. What is it? Medical officer?”

Martha nodded as she responded with, “Oh, yes.”

Jack then asked incredulously, “So do I have to call you ma’am?”

Martha laughed at that, enjoying the moment before thinking it too weird from the captain and shook her head as she said,

“No. Just follow my orders to the letter.”

Iris saluted her and made the medical officer laugh all over again. Iris was so small and cute that it was just adorable to look at. Jack then put on a somewhat serious face as he said,

“You should have called me if you were looking for a job.”

Martha looked wistful at that and said, “I wasn’t. This woman from UNIT rang out of the blue, said I was just what they needed. That I’d come highly recommended by an impeccable source.”

Jack pointed up and asked, “You mean?”

Martha looked at Iris and Jack, nodding as she asked, “Well, who else would have done it?”

Iris smirked and said, “He must have thought he owed you a favor. We all do.”

Then, she stretched and hugged Martha before saying, “I have some more work to do, but I will talk to you guys again regarding that case.”

Jack and Martha asked simultaneously, “No hints?”

Iris shrugged and said, “Things should be alright for now.”

The other two time travelers looked at each other with confusion but just shrugged it off and watched Iris head out of the office and walk towards her desk. Once Jack thought Iris wouldn’t be able to hear his request, he asked Martha,

“So, do you think you could get me one of those red caps for personal use? I’m thinking Iris might look good in it.”

Martha’s eyebrows shot up at that statement before laughing and blushing a little as she said to him,

“You want uniforms, get your own. Now, am I going to get the guided tour?”

Jack smiled widely with teasing in his eyes as he saluted her and said, “Yes ma’am, whatever you say, ma’am! Huah!”

Martha chuckled at his antics and said, “Leave it.”

Iris was working on some paperwork that Jack had neglected to do again, and noticed on the side Ianto walk up to her.

“Need anything?” Ianto asked.

Iris nodded and said, “A coffee would be lovely. You have no idea how much I need it now more than ever.”

Ianto chuckled and said, “I swear you’re addicted. It’s not good.”

Iris shrugged and said, “What can I do? You’re a great barista, great man, great archivist, and one of the best agents here. It would be strange to not have you around. I wouldn’t survive without you to take care of me.”

Ianto smiled at that, his heart beating a little faster. Though knowing of her relationship with Jack, he wanted to quash it down. But that wasn’t easy. Something about her always made him want to keep her grounded and safe.

“I’ll always be here for you. You know that.”

Iris nodded and hugged him spontaneously, breathing in his smell, blushing bright red as she shyly said, “I know you are. That’s what keeps me sane amidst everything. From the very beginning. And know that I will always be here for you too.”

Ianto smiled and hugged her back before saying, “Let me get that coffee your body needs.”

Iris laughed and nodded as she separated herself from the man and went back to work. While typing away furiously at the document she had to write for Jack, she heard Owen say,

“Yeah, there’s a lot of argument about this, but for my money it’s got to be a surgical instrument.”

Iris looked up and observed as Martha questioned the Torchwood medic with, “Really?”

Jack rolled his eyes and said, “He’s guessing. Typical medic.”

Iris yelled out, “Oi! Rude!”

Jack held up his hands as if surrendering and said, “Sorry! I meant smart medics.”

Iris glared at him even more, puffing air into one of her cheeks and Owen just laughed at that. Martha looked at the woman with curiosity. She hadn’t seen Iris so lively before and it was good to see at how bright of an attitude the woman carried. It was warm and comforting.

Owen then grumbled on with, “Right, well, I call it a singularity scalpel. See, what it does is it concentrates energy on a tiny fixed point without damaging anything on the way. It’s brilliant.”

Martha looked at the instrument with wonder as Owen continued to explain while Gwen scoffed and said,

“Yeah, do you remember the last time you did that, Owen?”

Owen ignored her as he said, “Yes. Right. Now, all we’re going to do is, we’re going to vaporize this paper without even scorching the cup.”

He crumpled a piece of paper into a paper cup, trying to simulate what would seem to be a harmless experiment.

Jack whispered into Martha’s ear as he backed her away from Owen, “This is going to end in tears.”

Owen didn’t hear it as he focused intently on focusing the singularity scalpel to the supposed right settings as he mumbled, “Ok…”

Owen then clicks onto something, causing something behind Ianto to explode. Ianto screamed out an “Argh!” at the explosion, letting go of the coffee he had made for Iris fly into the air and fall to the ground. Ianto grew angry at that and glared at Owen, huffing out a breath of annoyance.

Iris laughed at that and went to Ianto to pat him on the shoulder and whisper, “It’s alright. Thanks for the coffee.”

Ianto looked down at her and smiled at the funny situation while Owen looked guilty from Iris’ mock glare for ruining her coffee.

He whispered, “Er, I haven’t quite got the calibration right yet.”

Everyone laughed but Ianto, who noticed something pop up on Iris’ screen as he said,

“Jack. There’s been another attack. Assault with a hypodermic. Only this time, the victim survived. Woman aged 27. She’s in the hospital. Medical records wiped, just like the others.”

Jack then requested Martha and Owen to go and talk with the woman while Iris remained behind and looked more at the leftover analysis of the other victims. When the duo came back, they were all in Jack’s office as Jack said,

“Locally, we’ve got a murder victim and survivor. Both attacked with hypodermics, both with their medication records wiped.”

Martha continued with, “And more cases across the UK. We think the point of the attacks is to destroy evidence of their medical condition.”

Jack then looked at Gwen as he said, “Gwen, Ianto, pursue the criminal investigation.”

Gwen nodded alongside Ianto and headed out. The 51st century man then looked at Owen and Martha before saying, “Martha, Owen will follow up with the medical side.”

Owen said, “fine.” The two medics then left to do their work.

Jack then looked at Tosh and asked, “Tosh, any luck in retrieving those medical records?”

Tosh shook her heads, looking annoyed as she said, “Not yet. I’m gonna have to dig down into the system memories, see if I can find any remnants of deleted or temporary files. Completely illegally, of course.”

Jack then looked at Iris and said, “Iris, I want you to help out with whatever you can. We’re gonna need both of your skill sets in solving this case.”

Iris nodded and waited for Tosh to leave. Iris immediately turned to Jack and said,

“Jack, this level of difficulty of finding information for Tosh, you know that this could potentially involve the government? Do you want me to go digging through that aspect?”

Jack looked hesitant before saying, “Do what you have to. We’re not dealing with a freak with some needle fetish. This is a conspiracy.”

Iris frowned and nodded, concern emanating from her. Jack noticed and pulled her into a hug and said,

“You alright?”

Iris shivered and said, “What if this ends badly?”

“Does it?” Jack asked.

Iris didn’t answer but looked at him, not sure what the truth would be. Jack noticed her confusion and her fear of something happening. Jack pressed a finger to undo her frown and then cupped her cheek in his hand, letting her cuddle into it a bit before kissing her.

Iris leaned into the kiss before pulling away, content from the gentle kiss he gave her. He smiled and said,

“Whatever it is you know about this case, I want you to know that none of it will be your fault.”

Iris leaned into hug Jack and whispered, “I’m scared.”

Jack hugged her tighter and said, “I’ll protect you.”

Iris hugged him for a while longer before saying, “I should help Tosh.”

Jack chuckled and said, “Don’t keep her waiting.”

Iris nodded and walked out of his office. She heard Tosh say, “Ianto, the police have found another body in Heath Park. From the initial reports it’s got all the hallmarks of the other attacks.”

Ianto responded with, “I’ll get Gwen, head out there now.”

Iris walked up and read the files on Tosh’s screen and sighed out a breath. Another life was lost. And she felt terrible for it. Tosh didn’t notice this small revelation.

Iris then walked back to her desk and started looking up the Pharm to see if there was a way to go around their system. But it wasn’t easy and eventually, she gave up, not finding a way. Eventually, Martha and Owen went back to the hospital to talk to the patient, Marie, who had survived the attack. But eventually, she heard Owen say over his coms,

“Iris, she died.”

Iris froze her task she was doing at the moment and hesitated before carefully saying, “Come back to report it.”

Owen said they would be back soon and the other end of the coms went silent. Iris released her breath, frustrated. Jack came by and asked, “What happened?”

“Marie, the girl that had survived the attack… I wonder if I would have been able to save her.”

Jack noticed the sad look in her eyes as her fingers brushed through her hair that she had let loose from the messy bun she had done earlier. He hugged her and said,

“I understand what you feel…but it probably would have ended like this in some way or another. Don’t blame it all on yourself. We can focus that guilt to catching the ones that led to this outcome.”

Iris nodded her head, leaning into Jack’s embrace, enjoying the silence of the Hub. Tosh had gone to the conference room for a moment to double check something. But she had also gone to give Iris some privacy when she had seen Jack leave his office and had looked at Iris. She noticed that though Iris was much livelier, her focus from the pain had shifted to the guilt of losing people on cases that she knew of.

Iris then pulled away as she said, “Thank you… I might have needed that Jack.”

“Anytime.” Jack said as he muffled her hair with his hand and smiled warmly.

With that, Iris went back to work and focused on trying to see if she could glean more information regarding the doctor that she would have to stop later. Whatever the cost. But then, she suddenly felt a tug from the Doctor as he said, “Oh, you would not believe where we are right now!”

Iris smirked a little at that and then immediately put a sour look on her face as she recalled how she was able to hear him and asked, “Where are you?”

“A planet called Death’s Deal! Donna and I were answering a mayday call when we landed here. Do you know about this planet?”

Iris immediately grimaced, recalling exactly what adventure that was. She sighed and answered back with,

“Unfortunately, yes… I do.”

The Doctor then asked in a concerned voice, “Iris? Should I be wary about something”

Iris winced even more at that and warned him with, “Spoilers.”

She heard a groan and felt the annoyance flow through their bond and chuckled at that. She then said,

“Spaceman, just trust Donna on this adventure and keep an eye out for Erskine.”

The Doctor grimaced as he responded back with, “I was afraid you would say that.”

Iris laughed and asked, “You already saw that mayday then?”

The Doctor seemed to confirm this with a grunt using their bond, causing Iris to laugh at that and said, “Well, I have a case I’m working with Martha so I have to go. But we need to have that talk later.”

The Doctor sent a little bit of guilt through their bond, and said his farewells and promised Iris to not do anything stupid. Once the bond fell silent again, Iris sighed upon seeing her team file into the conference room. Iris followed and sat down with the paperwork she had prepared while she had been conversing with the Doctor through their bond. Martha and Owen stood in front of the screen and Owen began to say,

“This, folks, is a molecular model of the drug that we found in Marie’s blood.”

Martha continued with, “She called it Reset.”

Ianto asked, “So what does it do?” He looked concerned as Iris stood up and joined the other medics, handing out the paperwork she had prepared on Reset per the two’s request.

“Right, well, think when you find a virus on your computer and a software we set up onto it identifies those viruses and delete them. This alien, whatever it is, when it is placed inside a host, identifies viruses, harmful bacteria, toxins, mutant cells and more to create the ultimate healthy state. The perfect health. Something that wasn’t meant to exist.”

Owen cleared it up with, “Basically, the body’s been turned back to its factory settings.”

Martha added on with, “It’s the ultimate magic bullet. Supersedes anything and everything in the pharmacological armoury.”

Gwen shifted in her seat, unsettled by this and the reports from the student she had gotten as she whispered out, “But that would be the greatest medical discovery in history.”

Iris sighed as she responded to that statement, with, “Yes, but it comes with the price of hosting a lethal parasite in your body. From what I learned, this thing grows to be bigger than humans, so we don’t exactly know how longs humans can actually host the parasite until it causes human death.”

Jack then said, “Ah, not so good a discovery.”

Martha rolled her eyes at his amusement with the report of the parasite and warily said,

“The parasite needs a healthy body until it’s incubated. So the parasite egg incorporates this magic bullet, which puts everything in the system back to its factory settings.”

Jack clapped his hands as a response to wrap things up quickly as he faced the entire team and said,

“Reset. Neato. So, who runs the Pharm?”

Iris changed the screen to depict the Pharm’s information as Ianto read from her reports,

“Well, the public image is innocent enough. Private public partnership between the government and a consortium of the pharmaceutical companies. Researching and developing cutting edge biotechnology.”

Tosh perked up as she studied the report and said, “Their IT systems are way more cutting edge than they need to be. Plus, they’ve got seemingly unrestricted security clearance.”

Iris added, “Which means they’d have the capability to erase medical records if they wanted to.”

Tosh nodded and smiled at that and said, “Exactly.”

Jack was deep in thought for a moment before he asked, “Who runs this outfit?”

Gwen answered him with, “The Institute director is a Doctor Aaron Copley.”

Owen nodded at that and added with suspicion, “Yeah, I know his work. He’s one of the most respected research scientists in his field.”

Ianto added with the information he had gathered earlier while helping Iris, “Harvard graduate. Did research at Cambridge. Last job, Harvard Professor of Molecular Pharmacology. Came to the UK to set up the Pharm.”

Jack looked at the image of Aaron Copley that Iris had pulled up for everyone to see and commented with an amused smirk, “Hmm, he’s kind of handsome, too. Do you think he’ll like visitors?”

Iris shook her head at that and just tiredly smiled at his joke. As Jack and Owen were preparing to head out, Iris grabbed Jack’s arm and said,

“Be careful. He’s not going to stop believing that he’s right. He’s the type of man that could easily learn to kill someone in order to get his way.”

Jack smiled and asked, “Worried about me?”

Iris smiled back and said, “Always. I don’t like you getting hurt.”

Jack grew serious as he responded back with a kiss. One hand gripped the back of her neck while the other arm wrapped itself around her waist to bring her up to him. Iris kissed back with equal fervor, the kiss being slow and filled with much meaning.

Iris pulled away after a while and straightened Jack’s coat for him and said, “Come back safely.”

Jack nodded and gave her a peck on the forehead before leaving the Hub with the Torchwood rover. Once she saw them leave, Iris walked her way over to Ianto, who was gathering some materials to prepare for when Jack and Owen would come back.

Iris hugged Ianto from behind and snuggled her head into his back, liking the smell of his home-made coffee. Ianto’s eyes widened as he felt her arms around him and asked,

“What did I do to deserve this?”

Iris smiled and said, “You just looked huggable. Like a teddy bear.”

Ianto laughed at that and said, “Well, thank you ma’am.”

At the address, Iris sighed and frowned as she asked, “Must you call me that whenever I hug you?”

Ianto turned around and smirked as he said, “Well, what should I call you then?”

Iris swallowed a little at the close proximity of Ianto’s face towards hers, clearly blushing at how flustered she felt around the Welsh man after Jack’s confession from before. She looked away from his eyes and whispered,

“Iris. Just Iris… I don’t like you calling me ma’am. It makes me sound old.”

Ianto smiled warmly, seeing how Iris was blushing and hugged her as he rested his head on top of hers and said,

“Don’t worry. I’m so tall that nobody will think that you are older than me.”

Iris giggled as she asked, “What is that supposed to mean?”

Ianto laughed out loud a that and the two joked around as they argued. Martha observed this and asked Gwen,

“Aren’t Iris and Jack together?”

Gwen shrugged and said, “Knowing Jack, this can easily turn into a three-way relationship. And besides, I personally thought Iris and Ianto were going to get together before the whole Iris and Jack relationship.”

Martha looked at Gwen with surprise, asking with curiosity, “Why?”

Gwen responded with, “Well, when Iris first came here, Iris immediately latched herself to Ianto to help him out when we didn’t trust her enough. She always stood by him. Ianto lost his former girlfriend, but Iris was the one to first acknowledge him as a human, as a person that should be treated better than he really was before Iris had come along. That attracted both Jack and Ianto to her, but Ianto was able to really smile and laugh more through Iris. You could see how when Iris’ condition worsened, Ianto would be the one to help her fight through each day. She relied on him more than Jack. She probably felt safer with Ianto and still does.”

Martha looked back to observe Iris and Ianto, who were smiling at each other warmly and saw how, if she hadn’t seen Iris with Jack beforehand, that it would have been highly likely for her to have assumed Iris had a relationship with Ianto. She wasn’t sure what she felt about that, but one thing was clear: both men loved Iris with their entire being.

Once Jack and Owen had come back, the entire team met up at the Hub as Tosh said,

“Iris and I can’t hack in there, Jack. And if we keep trying with a brute force approach, they’ll know they’re under attack.”

Jack nodded, but he had a stern look in his face as he answered, “An alien life form is preying on the human bloodstream. I need a way in there.”

Ianto added on, “Tosh, I’ve got the results of that research. On the screen now.”

Tosh and Iris both looked at it, but Tosh reacted first to the set of information that was sent to her as her eyes widened at it and smiled as she said, “Ianto, that’s brilliant! They’re in the market for volunteers.”

Jack nodded and said, “That’s understandable, given their wastage rate.”

Gwen spoke up at that and said, “Then one of us goes in undercover.”

Jack shook his head, not liking the gleam in Iris’ eyes as he responded with,

“No, we don’t know enough about the workings of that place. Too many things could go wrong.”

Martha then spoke up, knowing the look in Jack’s eyes when he had glimpsed over at Iris, “Unless you were to put a medic in there. Someone who knew what to look for.”

Owen spoke up not quite getting what the meaning behind that was as he said, “Yeah, but I can’t do it. They know me now, don’t they.”

Iris laughed out loud at that and as Owen glared at her, she cleared her throat and smirked while saying,

“I know it’s hard to believe, Owen, but we weren’t thinking of you.”

Jack noticed the way Iris nodded at Martha and then realized what Martha Jones had said, still not liking the idea of his friend going in the Pharm undercover as he said,

“No way.”

Martha narrowed her eyes at him and said, “Come on, Jack. I’ve been in worse places and you know it.”

Jack looked back to Iris who nodded to Jack to his silent question and said, “She’s more than capable of this task. Believe in her.”

Jack sighed out loud as he resignedly said, “Alright.”

Owen shook his head at that and asked, “Jack, can I have a word?”

With that, he took the 51st century man to the side and whispered,

“I know you’re big buddies from way back whenever, but you can’t just send her in like this.”

Jack looked at Owen with a reassuring look as he said, “Trust me. If not me, trust Iris. She’s more than capable. I’d rely on Martha if the world was ending. In fact, Iris and I both did.”

Owen looked bewildered at that, but didn’t argue further about sending Martha undercover into the Pharm. If Iris trusted her so much, he was not going to argue much about it.

Once that was settled, Iris and Martha were at the Autopsy room discussing the new information the two men had brought from the Pharm. Iris walked down with the clip-board in her hands as she said,

“Okay. These are the plans for the Pharm’s buildings. Form what Jack and Owen saw, they reckon that the main house contains Copley’s office, medical research suites and the accommodation for the clinical trial subjects.”

Martha then asked as she looked up, “What about the buildings at the rear?”

Iris looked at the information that Ianto had handed her earlier and answered, “Restricted area, fenced off, armed security. Jack thinks that’s where the readings of alien life forms came from.”

Martha’s eyebrows shot up at that and she muttered, “Cool.”

Iris laughed but Ianto just said, “But you don’t need to go anywhere near there.”

Martha chuckled and responded jokingly, “Spoilsport.”

Iris double-checked everything she and Ianto had prepared for the UNIT medical officer and said,

“The first thing you need to do is get yourself accepted as a clinical trials subject. Don’t try too hard, just act like yourself. Also, don’t draw too much attention to yourself compared to others who would most likely volunteer for this program.”

Martha nodded at that and smiled as she said, “Be invisible. I can do that.”

Iris looked at her and continued debriefing her with what the woman needed to do as she said,

“Once you’re in, we need you to gain access to the Pharm’s IT systems. Once you’re there, Tosh and I need you to close down the system firewalls and security protocols. That way, Tosh can gain access to the files and see what they’re really up to.”

Martha smirked a little as she said, “Industrial espionage. It’s very civilized.”

Iris shook her head at the woman’s amusement and said, “Once you’ve done that, I really need you to get out. Don’t let your curiosity rule your head even if you see something going on within the Pharm itself. We don’t want unnecessary risks. It could cost not only yours, but our lives.”

Martha saw how serious Iris was about this and nodded as she said, “Understood.”

It was something in Iris’ eyes, but the look of determination and underlying warning terrified her from debating back. She must know something that she didn’t about what would happen and she didn’t want to risk it.

Iris then sighed heavily and smiled to bring her optimism back up. With that, she muttered, “Cool!” and hugged Martha tightly.

Martha pulled away and whispered up close to her, “So… Jack asked me if I could get you a UNIT cap to wear.”

Martha laughed out loud at how red Iris’ face immediately became as Iris muttered something about how Jack was never satisfied.

“I think I’ll pass… I’m not… I just-”

Martha laughed even harder at how flustered Iris seemed at that and saw how Iris glared at her for her amusement.

Martha then leaned up closer as she wriggled her eyebrows and asked,

“So am I right in thinking that you and he…”

Iris nodded, not able to say anything, wanting to curl up into a ball and disappear from pure embarrassment.

Martha then asked, “So, what’s he like?”

Iris glared at her as she muttered something again. Martha heard it, but wanted to tease the girl a bit more as she asked, “What was that?”

Iris choked out in embarrassment in a slightly louder voice, “Innovative.”

Martha’s eyes widened at that, realizing why Iris seemed flustered as she incredulously asked, “Really?”

Iris once again replied, “Bordering on the avant garde.”

It almost sounded resentful to the point that it clearly showed how Iris was not quite comfortable sharing it with others. Martha looked extremely surprised and blushed just a tad bit. Martha had expected Jack to be pretty open about their sex life, but not this blatantly experimental with Iris.

Martha stuttered before managing to express, “wow…”

Iris hid herself before clearing her throat and said, “So, uh, should we get your cover story sorted?”

Martha nodded furiously and the two women headed back to Jack’s office, where they met Ianto and the others. Martha entered when Ianto handed her the other things she needed to go undercover as he said,

“Fake ID. First name Samantha, thought the Jones would be safe.”

Martha nodded and asked the Torchwood team, “Okay. How do I stay in ouch?”

Tosh spoke up with, “Communication’s very tricky. The whole place could be wired. We don’t want you chattering away to us and being overheard.”

Jack seriously said, “But I want to monitor you at all times.”

Martha looked confused as she asked, “So?”

But when she was handed what looked like contact lenses, her confusion grew as she said,

“I don’t need contact lenses.”

Gwen looked at her with a smirk before saying, “You need these.”

Martha hesitantly took the contact lenses and went to the Hub after putting them on, finally figuring the purpose out as she shouted out,

“Oh, I’m a camera.”

Jack smirked and responded to that with,

“As Chris Isherwood once said to me when we were cruising the Kurfurstendamn.”

Iris shook her head that, trying to push down the little bit of jealously in her. That wasn’t needed at the moment. But Martha ignored the comment Jack had made as Gwen had sent a message to the contact lenses and Martha gaped at the advanced technology she was trying out.

Tosh explained to Martha, “Power comes from the body heat, so they only work when you’re wearing them.”

Owen walked up closer to Tosh, putting one arm around the Torchwood technician, making Tosh blush a little as he seriously said, “Yeah, so you have to wear them everywhere.”

Iris realized that Owen was saying this as a warning this time, unlike the innuendo he had made in the show. But then again, he seemed to have a subtle relationship with Tosh that she had noticed getting stronger each time she came back from being with the Doctor.

Martha joked back though as she said, “Well, I’ll do some things with my eyes shut, then.”

Jack then changed the subject back to the mission as he said,

“In case of an emergency, we can speak directly to you.”

Iris joined into the conversation as she said, “The lens will communicate with your sensory neuroreceptors. Bypasses the auditory system.”

Martha asked, “But can’t these signals be intercepted.”

Ianto smiled as he kindly explained, “Alien technology which exploits a solution to the EPR paradox.”

Martha snapped her finger as she realized what that was as she exclaimed, “Oh, quantum entanglement of remote particles?! That’s cool.”

Jack chuckled and looked proud of Martha as he said, “Did I mention she was brilliant?”

With that, Iris dropped Martha off at the Pharm and headed back to the Hub, waiting with the team, observing the screen as Martha was talking to Copley. The team all grew anxious as Martha seemed to lose Copley, but when Martha quickly grabbed the doctor’s interest, Iris let out a big breath from all the nerves getting to her.

Later, Jack whispered out nervously, “Come on Martha…”

Iris massaged his shoulders a little to reassure him that things were going to be alright. But she did say,

“We should get ready to leave just in case. We don’t want to not be prepared for it.”

Ianto heard that and said out loud, “I already got the rover ready. We just need to wait and see.”

“You genius!” Jack said and then pecked Iris’ cheek before going to his office to deal with some more paperwork.

When Iris looked around the screen, Owen came up with a can of lemonade for her and a beer for him as he watched the screen that Martha was filming through her contacts. Iris thanked him for the drink and said,

“You and Tosh are getting on well.”

Owen smiled a little as he said, “Yeah, you know me, Mister Sociable.”

Iris whispered to not let Tosh hear, “She’s beautiful.”

Owen silently drank his beer and gave a hum of a noise as if agreeing. Iris smirked bumped into him as she said,

“You know she is.”

Owen smiled and said, “Yes, well, fair cop.”

Iris wriggled her eyebrows as if insinuating something while Owen glimpsed over at Tosh and then back at the other Torchwood technician/medic as he sighed and whispered,

“No, she’s only interested in work.”

Iris frowned and sighed as she asked, “Do you really think so?”

Owen looked a little bit defeated before hiding it as he muttered,

“Yeah… Plus, if I tried anything with her, I think Jack would have my kneecaps.”

Iris shook her head and nudged him as she said “Don’t worry about that. Go for it. Is there anything you can talk to her about?”

Owen blushed a little as he said, “Well, there was that thing she was organizing.”

Iris pushed him and said, “Go for it.”

Tosh looked up at the bewildered Owen and smiled at him a little, when the man walked closer to her. Owen gulped and looked back at Iris, who merely gave him a thumbs up. He approached Tosh as he asked,

“So, what happened to that pool tournament you were organizing?”

Tosh looked at him and hesitantly said, “That? It was never a tournament.”

Owen looked surprised at that and then asked, “What was all that about then?”

Tosh blushed a little as she whispered, “I was asking you out on a date.”

Owen froze at that realization and Tosh looked a little distraught from looking at him so shocked before Owen cleared his throat and awkwardly asked, “Sorry?”

Tosh repeated even more nervously, “I was asking you out on a date.”

Owen couldn’t believe his luck at that and repeated, “A date?”

Tosh looked upset at that and said, “You didn’t realize…”

Owen shook his head and grabbed Tosh by her shoulders as he looked at her with a straight face, asking her seriously, “You and me?”

Tosh was getting confused by his sudden action and said in a shaky voice, “Yeah…”

Owen grew a little hopeful as he carefully asked, “Do you still want that?”

Tosh looked up at Owen with surprise and a little bit of hope as she squeeked out, “Yeah”

Owen burst into a full smile as he pulled away a little as he said, “Let’s do it.”

Tosh breathed out disbelievingly, “Are you being sarcastic?” She really hoped that that wasn’t the case. She really wanted this to be reality rather than some sick joke. But when she saw the serious look Owen gave her, that doubt melted away as he said,

“No. One date, let’s see how it goes.”

Tosh nodded quickly almost looking like a bobblehead as she smiled and blushed whilst saying, “That’s fine. A drink.”

Owen patted her shoulder as he said in a relieved manner, “Okay.”

Tosh breathed out again, “Yeah.”

Iris chuckled before yelling out,

“Oy, lovebirds! As much as I love watching you agreeing to go on a date, we still have to concentrate on Martha.”

At Iris’ interruption, Owen and Tosh jumped and both blushed, their faces turning bright red. Both awkwardly stumbled their way over to Iris as they came back to see how Martha was doing. Ianto and Gwen joined along to see how things were going. Jack came back from his office to see how it was going.

When Martha left her room at the Pharm and headed towards the Administrator’s room, it was clear Martha wanted assistance with the keycode panel. Owen whispered, “Tosh, can you get us past this?”

Tosh scoffed at that question and said, “Easy peasy. She just needs to get the lenses within the EPR field.”

She typed this message to get closer to the keycode to Martha. When the woman did exactly that, the five digit code was cracked and Martha typed it in, quickly entering the room before security could spot her.

Martha made her way over to Copley’s computer, but needed a password for the user.

Iris then politely took over and typed to Martha what to do so that Tosh would have remote control of the computer. Once that was done, Tosh got control and everyone read the information regarding the Mayfly.

Iris grimaced at that information, knowing what was taking place at the Pharm. Ianto noticed this and wrapped an arm around her, bringing her in for a hug to comfort her in that regard. He wasn’t sure what caused her to feel the way she did, but he hoped that he could help somehow. When they continued reading the information, Gwen muttered,

“Wow. We’ve never seen a species like that before.”

Tosh whispered, “It’s beautiful.”

Meanwhile, Owen shook his head as he cautiously said, “It’s lethal.”

Jack didn’t like where this was going as he said, “But what is Copley doing with them? Martha, now we’ve got control, we can download all of this and go through it here. Get out of there pronto.”

Gwen urgently asked Tosh, “Tosh, do you have that code breaker software?”

Tosh then said, “I’m sending a patch through now.”

Gwen thanked her and quickly went to work using the program Tosh sent. Soon enough, she pulled up the list of the clinical trial subjects and found the victims they had been studying. She reported this to Jack, who said in response,

“Old CIA terminology for assassinations. The Pharm are running their own hit man, which is kind of unusual for a medical research facility.”

Iris then urgently pressed on with, “We have to leave now. There’s a name we haven’t seen before, Elin Morgan. She’s still on grid.”

 Jack pulled his coat on as he said, “She soon will be. Take Ianto and pull her in.”

Iris nodded and Gwen and Ianto followed her out to the field. Jack quickly grabbed Iris’ arm, knowing that he couldn’t stop her from leaving as he said, “Be careful.”

Iris whispered back, “Always.”

Jack nodded and let her go. In the range rover, Iris was tracking Billy Davis’ mobile and said to the rest of her team, “Gwen, step on it, he’ll be at Elin’s flat in three minutes.”

“On it!” Gwen yelled as she stepped onto the accelerator more. Eventually, they arrived at Elin’s flat and quickly and quietly stepped into it. When Ianto stepped into the bedroom, Gwen bolted in and yelled out,

“Hands above your head! Up!”

When Billy raised his hands, Ianto helped stun him, while Iris did a quick checkup of Elin. Determining that she will be fine if she was to be sent to the hospital, Iris called the ambulance for the poor woman.

Ianto meanwhile contacted Jack to inform him of the recent development as he said, “Jack, we’ve got Billy Davis. He could help get you into the Pharm.”

Jack urged the team to return to the Hub. When they arrived, Ianto dragged Billy to the holding cell area. Iris didn’t follow, not wanting to observe the torture. Although the man would not be harmed by their team, but she knew that the man had the Mayfly in him. When Ianto came back up with a grim look, Tosh seemed to have a eureka moment before she asked him,

“Ianto, what have you don with Billy Davis’ body?”

Ianto looked at her disbelievingly as he answered, “Er, I was just about to dispose of it. Why?”

Tosh smirked as she said, “I’ve thought of a way we can use him to get us into the Pharm. Clever, huh?”

Ianto frowned as he realized what she was saying and said, “Oh, you are warped on the inside. How do you think of these things?”

Tosh shook her head as she smiled and said, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Iris helped Tosh with the controlling of the rover. When they finally arrived at the Pharm, Jack whispered to them,

“Tosh, Gwen, Ianto, check out Zone A. We’re going after Martha. Let’s go.”

Iris followed the two men into the examination room, where Martha was being held. Owen had brought the tool that he still was not sure how to use, but Iris had insisted that it would be needed.

When they finally arrived, Jack yelled out,

“Hands above your head!” But the trio saw how bad Martha’s condition was and Iris raced forward with Owen while Jack angrily asked,

“What have you done to her?!” to Copley.

Iris urgently said, “They put Reset into her. We need to use that singularity scalpel now, Owen!”

Owen hesitated while pulling it out while Copley said,

“She’s survived the larval stage. The only subject ever to do so. It’s fascinating. Turns out these bugs practice sibling cannibalism. Only the strongest individual is left now. God knows what happens next.”

Iris growled at the sick wonder in Copley’s voice as she retaliated with,

“This Mayfly is a lethal parasite and you know it! Of all things, you should know human experimentation is not good!”

Copley didn’t know what to say back as he just remained quiet while Owen glanced back at Iris, who yelled out,

“Owen, use that scalpel now!”

That was when Jack got the information from Ianto about Zone A. Iris was holding Martha’s form as she heard him say,

“Understood, Ianto. Tell Tosh to go for total shutdown. This place is a torture chamber.”

Copley huffed as he said, “I don’t need to debate medical ethics with you.”

Jack growled in anger as he said, “You abused the Mayflies. You turned them into parasites.”

Copley looked angry at that and defended his project with,

“We didn’t understand how the Mayflies reproduced. We tried to limit the damage.”

Iris yelled out angrily back, “What damage? Murder?”

Copley continued arguing with, “They were going to die anyway. We’re on the edge of the greatest discovery in history. It’s got to be worth a few sacrifices. You must understand that, Jack, you’re involved in alien research.”

Jack shook his head as he continued pointing his gun at Copley while he answered,

“Not like this. I’m closing this place down.”

Copley scoffed, still not understanding his situation as he said, “In your dreams. This is a state of the art, official facility.”

Jack glanced at Iris instructing Owen how to use the singularity scalpel while he said,

“Oh, I’m not going to do it by sending a memo. We’re in control of your IT systems. As we speak, we’re crashing your data banks, wiping your records.”

The doctor looked like he was about to burst in anger as he yelled out, “That’s cyber terrorism.”

Iris bit out, “It’s better than everything you’ve done Copley.”

Jack evilly smirked as he menacingly said, “Oh, and that’s just for starters. We’re going to trip the systems of your fire, radiation and biohazard safety networks. The power will be cut, sprinklers will be activated, and a large part of this facility will be sealed and flooded with inert gases.”

Copley looked flabbergasted at that and whispered out, “The aliens will die.”

Jack continued to say, “They’re already dying. This way they’ll be put out of their misery.”

Copley lifted his arms in frustration as he continued to argue, “For God’s safe, we’re on the same side.”

Iris shook her head at that and said, “No. Combating hostile aliens is one thing, but this is slavery, exploitation, a war crime.”

But at that moment, Iris grasped Martha’s body still as the woman began convulsing. Iris yelled out to Owen, “Owen! Anytime now!”

Jack yelled out, panicking a little, while Copley took this chance to escape, “You’d better be sure because it’s never worked before. Are you to sure it’s safe?”

Iris nodded while Owen kept muttering as Jack joined Iris in keeping Martha still as he yelled out again,

“Iris, tell me you’re sure this is going to work. We could kill her with that thing! We’re losing her!”

Owen mutters and whispers to himself when suddenly, Martha’s body jolted up, breaking the restraints, breathing in gulps of air, before falling backwards limply. Iris quickly caught her, stopping the woman’s fall and held her, making sure she was alright.

Jack waited with baited breath when Martha’s breathing calmed down and Owen breathed out with relief,

“Oh, bloody hell, it worked. Thank God for that.”

Jack carried Martha’s body and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

Iris wiped the sweat that was forming on her forehead and said, “Gladly.”

But before she had left the room, she stared at Owen, determined to save him from the terrible fate that lied in front of him for this case.

As they all left, Iris heard a guard escort a lot of the workers while Owen was helping Martha and saying,

“I am prescribing rest and recuperation for you, madam. And a few days in bed, preferably under my or Iris’ supervision.”

Martha just nodded, tired from battling the Mayfly within her body. Meanwhile, Gwen came to join the group, having the assistant, Doctor Plummer at gunpoint as she escorted her to join the others. Then, Jack instructed Tosh to shut down the facility, which immediately started the evacuation program for the entire facility of Pharm. Then as Jack was turning around Copley appeared with a gun and yelled out angrily,

“Did you really think I was going to let you just walk away? You’ve ruined everything I’ve worked for.”

Owen stepped forward in front of everyone to the team’s discomfort as he said,

“Now, let’s not be stupid, okay? We’re both rational men, scientists. I know you don’t want to shoot her.”

But Copley’s gun rang out with a bang and the next thing everyone realized was Iris’ body pushing Owen out of the way, and Iris fall down from the impact of the bullet. Jack quickly shot Copley in the head while Martha and Owen knelt by Iris, Owen yelling,

“Iris! Can you hear me Iris?!”

Ianto froze and so did Jack, not knowing what to do as Tosh cried out, “You’ve got to help her.”

Jack finally realized what was going on and he cried out in fear, holding the limp body, whispering to her,

“Iris, stay with me.”

Iris felt weak and the burning sensation in her stomach really hurt. Her whole body began to tremble soon after when the cold settled in. Iris weakly looked up at Jack as she whispered,

“Jack…”

With Owen’s instructions, the team transported Iris to the rover and they tried to drive quickly back to the Hub. But Iris couldn’t really hear anything anymore as the black spots were coming into her vision. Tears fell and Iris reached for someone’s hand.

Ianto noticed this, since Jack was driving the rover, breaking the speed limit by a much greater speed than the rover probably could handle, and he grabbed her hand, whispering to her, “Stay with us. Please… Everything’s going to be alright.”

Owen was trying to stabilize Iris with Martha’s help, but it was clearly not doing much as Iris’ body was getting colder and trembled a lot. Ianto then yelled out in shock as Iris’ hand slipped away from his, completely limp, and see her head fall to the side, her eyes closed.

Chapter Text

Blackness. Everything was so black and empty and hollow. Iris wasn’t sure she felt this the last time she had died. So what changed? There was no beginning and there was no end. And at some point, she realized that she didn’t know who she was and what she was. Where she was could also have been a question.

But nothing was definite here. It didn’t really feel like much when she heard the man. It was the same thing over and over again until she recalled it,

“Zagreus.”

That one name, repeated and beckoning her to reach out to it. It was almost hypnotic. If she claimed that one name, she could be free from this never-ending darkness. But as she began reaching out to it, something in her told herself that it wasn’t time yet. It was too soon. She eventually tried to struggle against the temptation, desperately trying to search for something anything but that. But it was difficult, as there was nothing but that name when a voice reached out, yelling,

“Iris!!!”

The voice echoed, and the name struck her senses like lightning.

 


 

Once the rover arrived at the Hub, the team worked to rush Iris over to the Autopsy room quickly and gently. Once she was on the operating table, Owen and Martha rushed to resuscitate Iris’ cold body.

Ianto held Jack back as the 51st century man struggled against him to rush over to Iris.

“Iris… no… not again…”

Ianto hugged Jack tighter as he said, “She’s strong. She’ll come back to us. I know it.”

Tosh could not bear watching the resuscitation process and Gwen hugged her. Gwen muttered under her breath,

“Come on Iris…”

Ianto’s heart felt like breaking in two when suddenly, Jack bolted from him, saying, “I have to grab something.”

Ianto turned around as he yelled out, confused, “Jack? Where are you going?”

Jack yelled back, “Keep doing what you are doing!”

With that, Jack disappeared from the Hub and Ianto could only turn back around as he asked urgently,

“Is there any luck?”

Martha looked up as if she remembered something,

“Wait! I think I might know a way…”

Owen grunted as he said, “Are you sure that this will work?”

Martha shook her head as she stuttered out in panic, “Yes! No… I don’t know, but this should do more than anything else. Without this, I’m not sure if we can bring her back.”

Fearing that he might really lose Iris this time, Ianto nodded to the UNIT medical officer as he said, “Do it. We need anything. We can’t lose her again.”

Martha nodded back as she finished typing in the number into her phone and waited. Not too long after, the other line answered the call as the man said,

“Martha? This might not be the best time right now…”

Martha noticed the severe worry that she heard from the Doctor’s voice as she quickly answered,

“Doctor, Iris got shot and I think you need to get here.”

Silence was on the other side and he said, “Give me the coordinates and I’ll be there.”

Martha quickly told him where to land and she told Ianto to head up to the tour center. When Ianto went there, he saw a man run in with a red-haired woman as he said very quickly,

“Hello! I’m the Doctor, just talked to Martha. Where is Iris?”

Ianto grimly led the two people over to the Hub, where Donna gasped as she saw the bloodied clothes Iris wore as her pale body was undergoing CPR by Owen.

“Oh my God… what happened?”

Ianto saw the Doctor run over to Iris as he answered her, “We were on a case when Iris got hurt by the criminal by trying to protect Owen, our medic.”

Donna looked horrified at seeing her friend so pale and unmoving. Ianto noticed how unsettled she was and asked her, “Tea?”

Donna nodded as Ianto sent a worried glance over to Iris before heading down to make some tea for the team, no longer able to witness Iris’ still body. He needed to get away from there. He wanted to deny everything that had happened. Donna turned back from seeing Ianto act this way and saw how the Doctor grabbed Iris’ hand with both of his as Owen stopped CPR, watching the Time Lord warily. This was the first time the time traveler was in Torchwood three and he wasn’t sure what to think of the man.

But he heard the Doctor mutter as the Time Lord put his index fingers to Iris’ head like the times that he had formed mental links,

“Iris…”

For a few seconds, there seemed to be nothing when suddenly, Iris’ body jolted in shock and the woman in question gasped in a great amount of air before falling back to the table, breathing unevenly as they heard her sadly breathed out two words the Doctor recognized,

“No more…”

 


 

 

Out of the darkness, Iris felt something. She finally recognized it as a small breeze. Then slowly, she took in a breath as she finally felt the need for it, feeling a crisp but refreshing sensation of cold air flow through her nose to her lungs. That was when the darkness disappeared as her eyes opened. But instead of a dark landscape like she had expected, she gasped at the sight in front of her eyes:

Red grass.

.

.

.

And the massive structure in the distance.

 

It was Gallifrey. There was no mistaking the landscape. The snow beneath her bare feet felt cold, and she looked down to find herself wearing a white dress, flowing down as her hair moved according to the breeze, fully down. The view in front of her took her breath away and she slowly started walking over to the structure in front of her, not sure what to expect as she got closer and closer to it.

And the closer she got, she felt something grow within her. It felt like a hole had been left in her heart and soul. Something she couldn’t remember. But as she turned around to look back, she saw it, the red footsteps.

Iris frowned and finally felt it, the blood dripping from her hands and then the vision changed in front of her when she turned around to face forward again. The peaceful landscape of Gallifrey changed to that of a red sky with buildings on fire, screams echoing everywhere.

Around her, people ran away from the citadel, holding onto family and friends as much as they could. Daleks were in the sky and the ground as people fell one by one around her. Some of the solid figures ran straight through her as if she really wasn’t there, causing Iris to shiver in horror and sadness all at once. The closer she got to the citadel, she realized that the bloodier her hands got and Iris wanted nothing more than to wash them away. But she couldn’t stop the blood from flowing down her hands, making her want to find what was exactly causing this.

But she kept on walking towards it, feeling someone call to her from within. That was when she saw her. The woman in a red, Gallifreyan dress, with the same bloody hands, as she tossed the massive gun away from her hands and picked up a sword from its scabbard. The sword gleamed with something that tugged Iris closer, the one thing that she knew wasn’t an ordinary sword.

That was when the woman turned around and Iris cried out in horror. She knew who the person was, and Iris wanted to deny everything about the person’s existence here at Gallifrey. But before she could do anything about it, the woman started slaughtering not only the Daleks, but also Time Lords with that very sword.

Iris took a few steps back at what she was witnessing, not wanting to believe what was happening. Tears streamed down her face as the sheer amount of blood that was being spilled by the very sword she recognized.

Iris couldn’t help but watch in despair until the woman stood in front of two children, as she smirked evilly as she seemed to be muttering something to cause the children to scream in recognition and horror as the sword went up. Iris ran over, knowing that she was only a specter in this landscape, and screamed,

“Please, no more!”

The sword never came down and Iris opened the eyes she had closed to find the woman staring at her. Iris shivered as she whispered out again,

“No more… please… this isn’t why we are here.”

The woman smiled sadly, but that quickly turned into an evil one as the lady shook her head as she said, “Deny this with all your heart sweetheart, but it won’t change a thing.”

And with that, Iris pinched her eyes closed as the woman slashed the sword down when everything turned white and Iris’ eyes opened to find several pairs of eyes on her before she fell back limply on some hard surface and breathed out weakly,

“No more…”

 


 

 

The Doctor felt lost as he couldn’t feel anything through their bond for a while when Iris had woken up momentarily before falling unconscious. But because she had come back, Martha and Owen had been able to stabilize her condition. The Doctor had sat down, waiting for Iris to wake up, but he was still concerned at Iris’ last two words: no more.

The voice and the flash of the Time War in her mind while she was unconscious also made him frustrated. What was Iris’ role in all of this? Why was that in her mind? Did she know about him during that time? The man that he wanted to erase from even himself? As he was thinking about it, Jack ran in with something in his hands as he panted out, “I heard she came back… is she alright?!”

Ianto walked up to Jack as he nodded and said, “Yes, she did. She came back to us Jack. But what was it that you needed to get?”

Jack looked at Ianto as he wordlessly opened the box and showed his team what he had brought. It was a metal gauntlet. The one that looked exactly like the one Suzie had used. The Doctor saw what it was and asked,

“Jack? What is that?”

Jack looked at the ground, guilt underlying his facial features before saying, “I thought that this could potentially bring Iris back if she had really died on us.”

Gwen angrily shoved him as she shook her head in frustration and disappointment while saying,

“You can’t use it. Not after what Suzie had done to Iris.”

The Doctor looked at that in surprise from Gwen’s angry tone but as he was about to ask what exactly had happened then, Jack angrily responded to Gwen,

“I know…but I didn’t want to lose her again. She should have told me… she should have…”

Owen came up from the autopsy room and interrupted Jack, guilt in his voice as he said,

“Stop that right there Jack. We know why she didn’t tell us. Rather, she smiled on and solved the case with us and if anyone here is to blame, it’s me. I should have been more wary of Copley. But what’s done is done. Iris is stable now and we should get rid of that blasted glove before it can harm anyone.”

Jack nodded and set the gauntlet down, letting the Doctor study it in newfound fascination. Jack then approached Iris’ sleeping body as he asked,

“Owen, how is she?”

Owen responded back quietly, “Stable heartbeat. Good, strong pulse. She just needs to wake up after a good rest.”

Martha recognized a look in Owen’s eyes as she said, “Owen, you can’t lead the investigation.”

Owen jumped at that and tried to act innocent as he asked, “Why not?”

Martha looked at him and said, “because you feel guilty about Iris’ situation and that’s not going to help you do that investigation with an objective viewpoint.”

While the two medics argued with each other, Donna went up to the Doctor’s side, still holding her warm cup of tea as she whispered out, “Is Iris going to be alright?”

The Doctor nodded, taking his glasses off as he choked out, “She should be fine for now. But I’m not sure if we should leave just yet. How are you Donna?”

Donna looked grim as she said, “I didn’t realize how dangerous Iris’ job was. But now I see it. How is she able to do this and travel with you?”

The Doctor smiled a little as he said, “She’s special, just like you are Donna Noble.”

Donna shook her head as she denied it whilst saying, “Nah, I’m just a plain old temp from Chiswick. Nothin’ special about me.”

Gwen heard that and came up to the red-head and said, “That’s not true you know. Iris explained to me that she only befriends special people. And at first, I never understood why she said that to me, but she always said back to me, ‘Gwen, you’re going to save the world more than once, what doesn’t make you special?’ And I wish that I had been a better friend to her at the beginning. But I understand now. Iris, she has a talent of reading people, and you, Ms. Noble, are someone special. I mean, you travel the stars with this Doctor here and go on wicked adventures that Iris tells me about. And that’s something I wouldn’t have dreamt of.”

Donna smiled at that and chuckled as she said, “You think Iris is going to be fine?”

Gwen nodded as she smiled comfortingly, “If I know Iris, she will. She’s strong. And I know that she can pull this through.”

Donna nodded and tugged at the Doctor as she saw how the team wanted some privacy and couldn’t do that with the two of them there, so she said,

“Doctor, I think we should go now.”

The Doctor understood what she said, and though he really didn’t want to leave her without him to help her out, he nodded. Calming his two hearts, which have been beating rapidly even up to this moment, the Doctor cleared his throat to make sure his voice sounded strong, and said to the captain,

“Jack, look after her, alright?”

Jack hugged the Doctor tightly as he said, “Thank you so much.”

The Doctor just smiled and said, “I have a duty to take care of her.”

Jack shook his head, still hugging the Doctor and said, “Even if that’s the case, I’m still grateful.”

The Doctor nodded and then left the team with Donna. Martha stood by Jack and said,

“I’m glad it went well, but I’ll stay longer to check Iris’ condition until she gets better.”

Jack thanked her and went to sit by Iris’ bedside. Soon enough, everyone had gone home but Ianto and Jack. Ianto came up to Jack, handing him his coffee before sitting next to him as he said,

“She probably feels happy about what she did you know…no single bit of regret despite making us feel so scared for her.”

Jack chuckled as he said, “Probably… she’s going to give me grey hair so soon.”

Ianto laughed at that and looked down at her as he said, trying to hold back his tears,

“It’s still not fair that she sacrifices herself like this. She deserves to be happy and safe.”

Jack fell silent at that, silently debating whether he really should tell Ianto about the conversation he had shared with Iris before. If he told Ianto, there would be no coming back to a normal friendship with the man, he knew that. But for Iris’ happiness, he thought that this was right for him to say. He had a feeling that if he left this with Iris, the woman would keep silent out of respect for Ianto rather than herself. Jack set his coffee down onto a flat surface next to him before whispering,

“She loves you, you know.”

Ianto froze at that and looked at the man next to him, not sure what he just had heard as he asked,

“What?”

Jack looked up and said, “Before this case, we talked. Iris said that she loved both you and me. That she wasn’t sure what she wanted. But I think I know what she is feeling. And it’s that she loves you in the regards that you are a kind, warm and safe person to be with, while me? I’m something entirely else. Even I know that.”

Ianto looked flabbergasted before saying, “But she’s with you.”

Jack shook his head as he said, “But that doesn’t mean I see you as an enemy for her affections Ianto. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Strangely enough, I want you too.”

Ianto tensed at that and choked out, “I don’t quite understand.”

Jack hesitated before saying, “I love you too. Whatever she feels with you, I also feel it.”

Ianto stood up suddenly, not sure how to understand this as he excused himself awkwardly before leaving the Hub. He needed time. This wasn’t something he was prepared to hear from his boss. Not quite yet.

Jack sighed as he saw Ianto’s retreating figure before turning back to Iris as he whispered,

“Iris, please wake up…”

And as the night continued, Martha came back to find only Jack by Iris’ side. She approached and said,

“Jack, you need some sleep.”

Jack shook his head, but the UNIT doctor forced him to take a nap at least. Jack eventually caved to her orders and did that. While Martha was waiting by Iris’ side, Iris finally opened her eyes and moved a little.

“Wha--? Martha? What are you doing here?”

Martha immediately stood up and walked closer to Iris’ bedside, double-checking her vitals to make sure that she was alright as she said,

“Oh my goodness. You’re alright. How are you feeling?”

Iris sat up as she said, “Not too bad. I think, other than the wound, I feel alright.”

Martha smiled and scolded her for being so reckless, causing Iris to laugh a little. But then, Iris saw the little bit of a guarded curiousity in Martha’s eyes and Iris said,

“What are you curious about?”

Martha chuckled as she realized that she couldn’t hide anything from Iris. She hesitated before asking as if she was embarrassed, “What was it like, death?”

Iris grimaced, a dark look overcoming her eyes as she said, “I don’t think I should say.”

Martha frowned as she asked, “Why not?”

Iris just shook her head responding with, “It’s hard to describe. There aren’t the words for it. For me, it was just never-ending darkness and emptiness around me. But that’s not quite the entirety of it either. The last time, it wasn’t exactly like this time around.”

Martha wanted to ask her what she meant about last time, but didn’t have the courage to do it. She just nodded and was about to help her out when Iris, who had struggled off the bed during Martha’s ruminations, collapsed, her eyes open, but unfocused. Suddenly, she gripped Martha’s arm tightly as she wheezed out,

“Martha! I- I need help. The voice… oh God, he’s here!”

Martha held Iris’ shivering and terrified form tightly to hers as she yelled out, “Jack! Help! I need help now!”

Jack, who had been taking a nap, bolted down the stairs as he asked in a panicked voice,

“What’s happening? What’s she doing out of her bed?”

Martha quickly answered with, “She woke up and said she felt better when she was saying something to me before she collapsed.”

Martha then asked Iris, “Iris? Can you hear me? Calm down. You’re safe.”

Iris then seemed to gain focus to where she was before answering the unasked question,

“I was in the darkness again. There was something…. Someone there.”

Jack knelt in front of her as he asked, “What?” while Martha also asked, “What did you see? Who was it?”

Iris let tears slip down as she shook her head and said, “I don’t know… It, he… or whatever that was there was waiting for me.”

Then she started crying silently, leaning towards Jack, needing him as close to her as possible. The man hugged her tightly, not wanting to let her go as he reassured her, “Come on, it’s going to be alright.”

But Iris knew what was going on. Death was coming. Though they didn’t use the gauntlet, she felt the how the proximity of the gauntlet to her was somehow causing him to rise. And she felt a bone-chilling coldness settle over her as fear enveloped her entire being. This shouldn’t be happening. They hadn’t used the gauntlet on her. She could feel her heart beating rapidly, the blood flowing through her veins. She was clearly alive.

When Iris finally calmed down, Iris said, to Jack,

“Jack, the gauntlet you brought, you have to get rid of it from here.”

Jack looked confused as he asked, “Is this an episode?”

Iris cringed but nodded all the same. Jack frowned at that, concern overcoming his face as he said,

“But we didn’t use it.”

Iris shook her head again as she said, “But I can feel him getting closer. It’s so cold Jack.”

Jack noticed how Iris was warm but demanded that she felt cold. He instantly grew worried and decided to call the team over first thing in the morning. He helped her to her bed and said to her,

“Just finish resting. You’re still not fully healed from this entire ordeal.”

Iris didn’t argue, the pain from her abdomen feeling close to a burning sensation. Because she didn’t have magical healing abilities like she wished she had at times, the wound she received from the gunshot earlier still hurt like hell. Once it was morning, Jack called the team over and Iris was carried to the conference room with Jack’s help. Ianto had distanced himself a little bit as he wasn’t sure what to think about the conversation he had earlier the last night.

Martha said with a concerned look towards the team, “An energy I can’t identify was released by Iris yesterday after she had collapsed. But it’s growing, all the time. Her body currently is 40% of this mysterious energy.”

Iris grimaced as she said, “I don’t feel different. Also, this shouldn’t be happening since you didn’t use that gauntlet on me.”

But that was a lie. Iris shivered as she remembered the vision she had of the woman in Gallifrey. She had never seen that sword before, but something felt familiar about it. As if she had seen it beforehand. What the woman had said to her, she trembled, and she didn’t want to think about it. No, she wanted to forget about it entirely, as if that had never happened.

Jack rubbed her back to comfort her as he sternly said, “We still need to find out about where this energy’s coming from.”

Tosh looked at the readings Martha had put up and said, “Presumably it’s the same place as the glove, which, judging from its atomic makeup, isn’t anywhere local.”

Gwen sighed tiredly as she added on, “Iris said she went somewhere when she collapsed. Could the energy and the glove come from the same dark place?”

Jack asked back, “What are we talking about? Another dimension? Parallel universe?”

Iris huffed as she said, “Hello? I’m still here. Please don’t talk as if I’m not actually here. And if that gauntlet really did come from another universe, is there a possibility that it came from mine?”

Jack thought about this before saying, “Iris, I’m sorry. Also, we’re not sure about that. But you did say that there was something in the darkness coming for you.”

Iris glared at him as she said, “I felt it. I feel it. I didn’t see it.”

Jack asked again, “Where you think you went?”

Iris shrugged her shoulders as she said confusedly, “I don’t know.”

With that, Ianto helped Iris back to her bed by the Autopsy room while Martha turned around asked Jack,

“So what now?”

Jack asked Tosh, “Tosh, could you check our internal system readings for any dimensional anomalies in the last twelve hours?”

Tosh nodded and immediately went to work while Owen approached her as she asked him,

“Is she going to be alright?”

Owen smiled back at her to comfort her as he said, “She’s strong. She won’t stop running.”

Tosh swallowed thickly as tears threatened her eyes as she admitted, “For a moment there, I was so scared that it was going to be you. But when Iris fell, I got scared. That it was me that caused it.”

Owen shook his head as he asked, “Why would you think that?”

Tosh hung her head low as she stopped typing things in when she admitted, “Because I was glad that it was her instead of you, even if it was a millisecond.”

Owen hugged her as he said, “But I’m here. And Iris is not going to die. Never. We’re going to help her live through this. Like always.”

Tosh smiled as she leaned in before clearing her throat and cheerfully said, “Well then, better get back to work!”

Owen smiled back and patted her on the back before heading back down to watch over Iris. That was when he heard something distant, a man’s bone-chilling voice. It felt distant, but he heard it,

“Abatha duroc minus mill kabal.”

Owen stopped when he saw Iris stiffen upon seeing him. As both people heard and Iris whispered out,

“Melkurian abatha duroc minus mill kabal.”

That was when silence fell over Iris’ mind and Owen felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from him. In the meantime, Martha got a signal that the detector she had been studying had registered something new. Martha ran over to the two as she asked,

“What just happened, Owen?”

Jack rushed over with her as he asked, “Is Iris alright?”

Iris shrugged as she responded with, “Nothing really happened.”

Owen glowered at her as he said, “That’s bullshit. You said something, and I heard it. It was almost as if a man was controlling you to say those words. I don’t understand the language, but I definitely know that that wasn’t you.”

“And if I heard it when the gauntlet was never used on me…”

Owens’ eyes widened as if he realized something and in horror, he slowly turned around to face her as he asked, “It was me, wasn’t it?”

Iris looked up at him and saw the realization behind his eyes and looked away from him as she said,

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“It was supposed to be me. I was supposed to die back there with Copley. And you saved me. Whatever was supposed to happen to me, it’s echoing back.”

Iris shook her head, as if trying to deny it as she exclaimed, “No! Time can be changed. Just this once, I deserve this. To save people I care about.”

Owen yelled back as he said, “Are you insane?! What did you do that for? Do you know what even happened to you?! You died on us Iris! Whatever was supposed to happen to me is taking over you now!”

“Then let it! I chose this. I knew what was going to happen and I accepted the consequences.”

Iris shook as angry tears spilled from her eyes, admitting that she indeed, had known what was to play out. Owen, now angry at the fact that Iris was suffering in place of him, stomped away as he was upset at the revelation that she had died for him. Taken whatever evil thing that was supposed to happen to him.

When he was finally alone, Owen cried in frustration, not sure what to feel as he worried about Iris’ future. Jack and Martha remained silent as they took this information in before Jack walked up to her and said,

“Give him time.”

Iris sighed and nodded as she said, “I know that Owen’s just worried about me. But Jack, I knew what was going to happen. I didn’t realize just what it would do to me since I changed time in such a big way. It wasn’t Owen’s time to quite disappear from Earth, and I just made sure that he wasn’t going to lose himself until that time.”

Iris looked haunted at that moment, causing Martha to hug her friend and say, “Don’t worry about that Iris. Everything will be fine.”

And as Martha pulled away, Iris looked up to Jack and said, “We need Tosh to translate whatever I said to Owen. He said he heard me say something and I think I know what it is, but I don’t really know if I said anything or not. I don’t remember doing it. Tosh is going to have to look through the CCTV recordings.”

Jack and Martha shared a glance and nodded as they went back up. Tosh took the clip and then put the universal translator onto the computer and started playing the video. However, instead of a literal translation, only symbols popped up on her screen and Tosh muttered in surprise,

“It’s never done that before.”

Suddenly, the computer said, “I shall walk the Earth and my hunger will know no bounds.”

Gwen tensed as she looked hesitantly at Jack and muttered, “I’ve got a really bad feeling about this.”

Jack’s mind repeated the message over and over again as he said out loud, “You don’t know the half of it.”

Iris then, with Ianto’s help came up to the Hub as she said, “Apparently whatever was supposed to happen to Owen hasn’t all come over to me. We checked something with Owen and turns out, he’s still the King of the Weevils.”

Owen looked worried about that fact and he said, “So I’m King of the Weevils, maybe even Weevil Messiah. But whichever way you look at it, it ain’t good.”

Gwen lifted her hands at the air in frustration as they were getting even more confused as she said, “No it isn’t”

With that, she pulled out paperwork that she had read up on and said,

“I think it’s happened before. I found it in an article about Black Death, and what you’re looking at there are the first images of the Grim Reaper. I shall walk the Earth and my hunger will know no bounds. In legend, the person who said those words was Death himself.”

Martha shook her head as she said, “But there’s no such thing.”

Iris quickly said, “Actually, there is. I can feel him. I’m not sure why, but I know he’s waiting. If we don’t do anything soon, I think I might turn into him, or he takes over my body or whatever. I’m not sure how this really works. But we don’t have time.”

Gwen continued as Iris signaled her to keep sharing what she had found, “Right, that wood carving dates back to the 15th century, to a small parish called Saint James. When they heard about the plague, they built a wall around the town. Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent a little girl from dying. So the legend goes, the priest performs a miracle, brings her back to life, but she doesn’t come back alone. She brought Death with her, and he walked amongst them.”

Iris grimaced at that and said,

“Well, Jack, was the glove from St. Mary’s?”

Jack tensed as he nodded and said, “Yup. I did.”

Owen asked worriedly, “What happened to the town when Death walked amongst them?”

Gwen read it in a silent voice, “People died. Twelve people. Death needed 13 souls before it had a permanent hold on the Earth.”

Jack asked her again, “How did they stop it at twelve?”

Gwen answered, still not sure about the answer as she said, “It just says faith.”

Everyone groaned at that while Martha cut in with,

“Iris is affected and potentially changing from this. Who knows what that energy is? What if it’s making her a host, a gateway?”

Iris mumbled a sarcastic, “thanks” which was ignored by everyone else as Owen said,

“I’ve been thinking that if there’s something in that darkness. What if it’s trying to get here through Iris?”

Iris stood straighter at that while the monitor on her wrist started to go off again as she read and grimaced before saying, “Er… Martha? It’s at 80% now…”

Martha looked at her, completely lost as Owen said, “We don’t have time. We need to know what we can do to limit casualties.”

Jack then looked at her and asked, “Iris, is it possible to tell us a few things?”

Iris shook her head as she answered him with trepidation, “I don’t think so… It’s just… I think I changed too many things and now time is trying to compensate for it.”

Owen tensed at that and said, “But it’s going to be alright in the end?”

Iris shook her head, looking apologetic as she clearly wasn’t sure if there was any way to make this end the way it did in the episode she had watched. Already, it had diverged what could be considered too much, and she wasn’t sure if it was causing the world to fall apart already.

The team was trying to figure something out when Iris, who was sitting down, felt her heartrate increase and Martha looked at the reacting detector as she looked worriedly over at the younger woman as she said,

“Iris is at 95%.”

Owen then shuffled as he yelled, “No there has to be something better than this.”

Iris huffed in pain as she leaned on Ianto as she stood up and looked straight at Jack as she said,

“Jack, take me down to the holding cells. It’s not safe for me to be here.”

Jack shook his head as he said, “No, there’s no way you’re going down there.”

Iris glared at him as she argued, “Jack, I’m currently a danger to the world and it’s Torchwood’s responsibility to limit the casualties as much as possible from those threats. We know that Death is going to come here through me and we need to hold it down as much as possible. We don’t know how to stop it, but we can slow it down to figure something out!”

“Iris, please..” Jack pleaded, sadness coming over his eyes.

He recognized the protocol she was recalling to him. He didn’t need it taught to him. He had seen it placed on several of his coworkers. But Iris was different. She didn’t deserve that. She deserved so more than this. He knew that she currently harbored a great threat, but all he wanted was for her to be safe.

But that was when they all heard metal clinking on a hard surface. Owen gulped as he whispered,

“Someone doesn’t want you to be held in prison, Iris…”

Suddenly, the gauntlet leaped up at Martha, who was closest to the gauntlet. Jack realized the gravity of the situation and yelled out, “Lockdown!”

With that, Tosh put on the proper procedures for the Autopsy room to be on lockdown from her desk while Jack ran over to Martha as he tried pulling the gauntlet off of Martha as it had latched onto her face and didn’t let go. When he finally succeeded to pull it off, Gwen ran over to help Martha out while Ianto ran in with a hockey stick in his hands.

The gauntlet was nowhere to be seen and Owen stood by Iris, protecting her from whatever the gauntlet had planned. That was when Jack hushed everyone as he said,

“Iris, don’t move. Everyone slowly spread out. Shush.”

Gwen whispered out, wary of every single noise, “Where did it go?”

Martha muttered, “I think it went under the cabinet.”

Jack approached over to the two women as he asked, “Are you alright?”

Martha’s hoarse voice responded back with, “Yeah, I think so.”

Jack nodded and hugged her as he said, “Good.”

But the relief was short-lived as Gwen spotted the gauntlet and whispered, “It’s there.”

Martha, not able to curb her curiosity, had leaned over the railing that had kept her out of the gauntlet’s reach. But before Iris could yell out a warning to the medic, she had leaned over just enough, for the gauntlet once again launched onto her face. Martha’s scream pierced the autopsy room and then Gwen and Jack both had to work on pulling the glove off of her face. But once they succeeded pulling it off of her, Owen gasped as he muttered,

“What the hell…”

Iris saw the wrinkled hand Martha lifted and Iris trembled as the strain of the situation started getting to her. She had expected this once she realized that the events from what should have happened with Owen’s death were playing out. However, it still shocked her to the core to see her friend, instantly become so old. Almost as if it was a reminder to what had happened to the Doctor on the Valiant right in front of her. Owen noticed, and he panicked while he quickly pulled out the gun from his holster and shot at the gauntlet, risking the connection between it and Iris to get cut off and potentially harming her again.

The gauntlet exploded once it got shot and then everyone started to regain their breath when Gwen gasped as she exclaimed,

“Oh, my God. Martha?”

Everyone looked back at the UNIT medical officer and froze as they noticed that she had aged to be an elderly woman.

Gwen looked back at Iris, who was barely standing with Owen’s help as she asked,

“Iris? What happened to Martha?”

Iris said grimly, “It’s the glove. It did this to her. Owen, help her! I’m in no condition to do it. Stabilize her so that Ianto can transport her to the hospital and stay by her side.”

But the device that kept her energy levels in check beeped to alert them that she had reached 100%, causing the whole team to freeze.

Iris finally felt it, a surge of energy and hollowness with the cold seeping into her. She wrapped her arms around herself as she backed away from Owen as she whispered in fear, “Please, no…”

But it was too late for anyone to react as her eyes turned entirely black as Owen heard a low, growling voice say through Iris,

“I will walk the Earth and my hunger will know no bounds”

With that, smoke came out of Iris’ eyes and mouth. The team cowered away from Iris’ body as the smoke began to solidify into something they did not recognize before it flew away. Owen quickly grabbed Iris’ limp body. Her vitals returned to normal and he set her body gently to the ground.

He saw the question in Jack’s eyes as he answered him, saying, “She’s fine. She’s regaining her consciousness. You should go ahead. We will catch up to you.”

Jack nodded before leaving the Hub with Gwen, carrying Martha out as Tosh had contacted the hospital for an ambulance already. Owen lifted Iris up with Ianto, who followed them out. During their car ride to the hospital, Iris woke up and grimly checked for her tools, which Ianto had brought.

Iris looked up at the Welsh man and asked, “Did I?”

Ianto nodded and Iris looked back down, guilt building up within her. Ianto noticed and hugged her as he said, “Everything will be alright.”

Iris shook her head, as she shakily said, “But the lives that are lost tonight, I can never make up for their lives. They are innocent. They deserve more than me causing their deaths.”

Ianto grabbed her shoulders as he said to her sternly, “This isn’t your fault. Everyone dies at some point, and yes, maybe their lives are cut short, but it is our goal to protect as many people as possible. No single life is light in our job. But this attitude won’t help us do that.”

Iris took in deep breaths before nodding and said determinedly, “You’re right. I- I have to be strong. I need to be strong for them.”

Ianto wanted to argue that she was already strong when they arrived at the hospital. Once they arrived, Iris let go of Ianto, who asked,

“Iris? What are you doing?”

Iris looked past him as she said, “I know what it wants Ianto. I can stop it.”

Owen shook his head as he said, “I was supposed to be here, in your shoes. You’re not going without me.”

Iris raised her hand to stop him as she retaliated with, “You stay with Tosh. And then-”

But they were cut off as Gwen’s voice came through the intercom, stating,

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Torchwood. If you can move as quickly and as safely as possible to your nearest exit. Thank you.”

Ianto and Iris bolted up the staircase as quickly as they could. Iris read the sign and then grabbed Ianto before bolting through a set of doors as she said, “He’s going to be here. The seventh floor. I can feel him around here.”

Ianto felt trepidation settle within him as he followed Iris into the area and said,

“Iris, we should wait for the others.”

Iris slowed down, but didn’t stop as she said,

“No more. I don’t want no more people to die because of what I do.”

Ianto couldn’t say anything to do that as he followed her when they all heard a voice say,

“Melkurian abatha duroc minus mill kabal.”

That was when they saw the smoke solidify into a figure and approach a child within the children’s ward. Iris bolted and burst through the door, ignoring the pain in her abdomen as she reached the child and yelled out,

“Grab my hand. Come on!”

With that, the kid grabbed onto her tightly as they bolted out of the ward. Ianto helped carry the child while running when they finally reached reception to meet up with Owen and Tosh.

Ianto lowered the child and said, “I think we lost it.”

But the doors in front of them locked and Owen cursed before saying, “Maybe not mate.”

Tosh pressed hurriedly onto her device as she mumbled, “If I can access the correct frequency.”

Iris went on her knees to be eye level with the child and asked, “What’s your name?”

The kid looked at her, terror filling his eyes as he answered back, “Jamie Burton.”

Iris smiled and warmed the kid up with her leather jacket and said, “All right, Jamie. I’m Iris, these are my coworkers, Ianto, Owen and Toshiko. We’re going to get you out of here. What are you in here for?”

Jamie’s trembling voice answered, “Leukemia.”

Tosh stopped her panicked typing and said, “Jamie, you’re going to be fine. I’ll have this door open in just a second.”

Owen joined Iris as he said, “Jamie, they got you in for a round of chemo, have they?”

Jamie answered back with, “Had that. It didn’t work.”

Owen frowned as he asked, “So why are you here?”

Jamie looked at all of them before answering with a whisper, not liking the answer himself as he said,

“They’re trying to make me have it again. It didn’t work though. The cancer just comes back, just makes my hair fall out. I’m gonna die. I might as well do it with eyebrows.”

Iris shook her head as she answered, ignoring the conversation Ianto had with Jack through their comms, “Jamie, I know you’re scared. Of course, you are. The last round of chemotherapy did not work, and you can’t bear the thought of going through all that pain again, and I understand. But let me tell you that not everyone dies because of Leukemia. The ones with the best chance of making it are those that believe they can beat Death. And sometimes, just sometimes, you can. So, Jamie, fight. Don’t lose and watch over me Jamie Burton.”

Jamie frowned as he grabbed Iris’ hands tighter with his smaller ones as he asked, “Watch what?”

Owen frowned too, not understanding when Iris stood up, gently pushing Jamie over to Owen as she said,

“Watch me beat Death.”

As Tosh managed to open the door, Tosh yelled “Come on!”

Owen, Ianto and Jamie were leaving when Iris said, “Go. Owen, take Jamie and protect him.”

Owen shook his head as he yelled back to her, “Are you insane? We can’t leave you to face that thing alone.”

Iris smiled back at him sadly as she said, “I know what I have to do.”

Owen wanted to stop her but before he could do that, she closed the door between them, making sure to lock it from her end and heard the multiple banging from the glass behind her. She slowly walked towards the stairs when she saw him. Death. He walked down the stairs and she yelled out Owen’s words from the show,

“How long can you last here with only 12 victims? There’s nothing here for you! Iris Kim’s soul may be here, but it has also been gone for such a long amount of time, I realize that now. There’s nobody here but us two dead beings.”

The smoky skeleton that had formed ran straight towards her and she heard the voices of her team scream out her name in desperation as Death reached out to her with its hand. Iris grabbed it and didn’t let go. Death looked up at her in shock as Iris’ form trembled with anger.

“I realized what I had denied about myself for so long. No more. That ends tonight. And you? You don’t stand a chance next to me now.”

Iris gripped Death’s hand tighter with one hand while grabbing it’s other with her own spare hand. She leaned in closer as they struggled and fought. Nobody noticed the flash of whitish-gold light that flashed across her eyes as she growled out,

“What else have you got? What else can you do to me? Who has seen it all. The great Time War. The end of it? The beginning? The wave of time itself?”

But the team behind the glass saw Jack run and Gwen run over as they stopped at the top of the staircase on the other side. Jack was out of breath, but desperation filled his eyes as he slammed against the door, wishing to open it. But Iris had already prevented any of them from entering.

Jack yelled out with panic in his eyes, “Iris! Iris!”

Gwen called out to her too, but Iris ignored them as she continued to struggle, feeling Death’s own fear of her. Iris smiled sadly and said,

“I know who I will be now. I understand that. And there may never be a way for me to avoid that fate. And I accept it.”

And with that, Death vanished, not having been able to get his 13th death within the arranged amount of time. The doors unlocked, and everyone ran towards her, not hearing Iris say under her breath,

“But if I can do anything about it, I’m taking the long way round.”

 

Back at the Hub, Iris was in Jack’s arms, as he did not let her go since he had hugged her from the hospital. He was angry at her for throwing herself into danger once again, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to fight with her. He was just glad that she was here with him and that was all that mattered for him.

Iris peeked out of Jack’s arms at Martha Jones, her friend, who had returned to normal after Death was defeated. As Martha came up from the autopsy room, Iris looked guilty as she said,

“I’m sorry that you got hurt. I should have realized that that was going to happen and hurt you.”

Martha shook her head and smiled warmly as she placed a red UNIT cap onto Iris’ head and said back to her, “It’s not your fault Iris, don’t blame yourself over this. You got hurt severely and saved the world. That’s not something that’s easily done. Especially for someone who rose from the dead multiple times.”

Iris grimaced, but still smiled at her as she said, “Well, I hope to see you around someday Doctor Jones.”

Jack chuckled as he said to her, “I would salute you again, but I have my hands full with keeping one woman from running right into danger all over again. But hey, stay safe out there.”

Martha nodded and said her goodbyes to everyone.

Once she left, Ianto drove Iris to her place while Tosh came up to Jack and asked,

“Did she really beat Death?”

Jack shook his head and answered sadly with, “You can never really beat Death, never escape it. It’s always in the shadows, waiting for all of us.”

Tosh looked sad as she asked, “So what do we do now?”

Owen came up and hugged her as he said, “We move on. We continue to do what we do best, protect the world.”

Jack smiled at the new development between his teammates and decided to call it a day when Gwen came over to him too and asked,

“Iris, why does she continue to throw herself into danger like this?”

Jack sighed and said, “It’s probably with the fact that she feels guilt about knowing things from beforehand. Whatever she knows about us, she cares about us like family. And to know that we might die or get severely injured? That’s probably not something she wishes to witness because it would weigh heavily on her heart.”

Gwen nodded and admitted, “I don’t think I ever want the knowledge she has. To see our futures and pasts? That’s not a light responsibility.”

Jack nodded as he said, “No, it isn’t”

With that, he patted her shoulder comfortingly as he said, “You should go to your place. Everyone needs a good rest.”

Gwen smiled and hugged him before heading out. Once everyone else was gone, Jack drove over to Iris’ place.

 


 

 

Meanwhile, Iris had arrived at her place and had changed into some comfortable clothes as Ianto cooked her dinner. They wordlessly prepared for the meal when Iris spoke up first,

“I’m assuming Jack already told you about us, didn’t he?”

Ianto hesitated before answering, “Yes… he did. I… I’m not sure what to say to that.”

Iris smiled bitterly as she said, “Don’t worry, I feel the same way. It’s just that, I know that there’s something I feel for you Ianto, and you’re not the only one who needs to sort things out.”

Ianto stopped plating the food when he looked up at her and said,

“I love you Iris… I really do…”

Iris turned around in surprise at that admission and froze, not sure what the best plan of action would be. Iris saw Ianto come over to her and say,

“I thought that this wouldn’t work. You, me, Jack… but when I saw you fighting Death, I decided something.”

Iris held her breath at the closeness of his body and she whispered out, “What?”

Ianto looked intensely into her eyes and said, “That I don’t want to regret not loving you to the fullest. Never. I understand that with our line of work, that it would be impossible to dream of a long and fulfilling life, but even if it’s short, I want that life to be with you.”

With that, Ianto cupped her face with both of his hands and gently placed his lips on hers. Iris tensed at first before closing her eyes and kissed him back, feeling the warmth and comfort that Ianto provided for her. The consolation that he would always stay by her side.

The kiss was slow and gentle. It was such a soft and gently kiss that she felt relief flow through her from Ianto’s confession. Without that, she would have probably been more anxious and unsure of herself.

Eventually, Ianto pulled away and smiled as he said, “And if that involves a three-way relationship, so be it. I mean, I have to admit, there’s something about Jack…”

Iris smirked and leaned in closer as she pecked him on the lips as she whispered out huskily,

“Dangerous?”

Ianto chuckled and nodded before kissing her again. Iris leaned in closer, moving her fingers through Ianto’s hair as he wrapped one arm across her waist and pulled her even closer. Iris gasped and let his tongue in as the kiss got deeper and deeper each time.

Iris pulled away for air before muttering “wow…” and smiled at him awkwardly when they both heard the door open as Jack came in. Jack noticed the flustered looks on both individuals and their swollen lips before smirking and teased them with,

“You make out and leave me alone? Now what kind of party is this?”

Iris laughed as she ran over to him and hugged him as she said, “I cannot be happier than any moment right now.”  

Jack raised an eyebrow, but he understood what she had meant. Iris rolled her eyes at that and just said,

“Let’s eat before the food gets cold. We can talk about this later.”

Jack looked up at Ianto, who blushed as he looked away awkwardly. Jack found that adorable and wasn’t sure if his guess was correct, but he hoped it was. Because there was something in Ianto that provided that grounded sense of warmth and comfort that he also needed just as much as Iris did.

Chapter Text

Iris sipped her coffee, enjoying the break she got, lounging around on her sofa watching television after all the chaos. Owen declared her to be taken out of work for a few days as she was to get better. Iris didn’t complain. She really needed one for herself. Jack had gone to the Hub to do some more of the pesky paperwork that he had to do with UNIT regarding how they needed to explain what they had done with Martha Jones.

As she was watching Downtown Abbey for what could be considered to be the 20th time in her life, she heard the knock at her door. Iris quickly reached for her remote to pause the tv, wincing a little as there was residual pain on her side from the wound. As she stood up, she stretched to loosen up the muscles from the lack of activity. She walked over to the door and opened it to find Ianto on the other side.

Iris smiled and said, “Hey, what are you doing here?”

Ianto smiled as he lifted up a shopping bag consisting of her favorite assortment of sour candy, popcorn and movies as he said,

“I thought you would like to watch some movies and get some sugar into you.”

Iris laughed at that and said, “Good. I was about to die from watching Downtown Abbey 5 times today alone.”

Ianto’s smile got wider as he walked in and saw the way her house was spotless unlike her normal self and sighed.

“You cleaned the house while doing it didn’t you?”

Iris shrugged as she let out a noncommittal noise. Ianto shook his head, knowing that Iris wasn’t one for staying still for an extended amount of time. He laid out the items he had bought before getting up and preparing the food for the movie.

Lately, Ianto stopped by whenever he had found the time to be with her alone, away from Jack’s 51st century ways. Iris enjoyed the quiet times that the two shared. With Jack, everything calm and quiet turned into a hectic mess and she didn’t like that. She realized that it was unfair for Jack, but lately, all she wanted some peace and quiet, which Ianto offered. She felt horrible about that, but Jack had waved it off when she had shared her concerns about the issue. He shook it off as he said,

“You need this. Lately, too much has happened in your life, especially since you have been balancing work with traveling throughout the universe with the Doctor.”

Iris appreciated Jack’s understanding of her out-of-control between work and her travels. But that didn’t mean that she noticed how Jack was giving her and Ianto some time to get used to the idea of their newfound relationship. But it just seemed so odd since she felt like she had either been spending time with Jack or Ianto and never with both. She stared at Ianto get some refreshments for them and wondered what Ianto really thought about his newfound feelings for Jack. He had admitted that it was there, but not exactly what he felt about that and just how much that was.

Ianto looked up at her and smiled warmly, just glad to have her by his side. He didn’t want to lose a single moment with her. And like that, they spent the night together, just cuddled next to each other with blankets wrapped around them while watching a movie. Nothing more happened other than them sitting close to each other.

When they finished, Iris cleaned up after them as Ianto stretched and said,

“One day, I need to get you to watch a horror movie with me.”

Iris shook her head as she glared at him playfully before saying, “No way. I can’t do horror movies, you know that.”

She shivered to show her inability to cope with watching horror movies as Ianto pouted and argued,

“You fight non-terrestrial beings, see the horrible aspects of humanity and yet you are terrified of horror movies?”

Iris shivered again, arguing back, “Yes! They may be fictional, but I just cannot deal with possession and whatnot. That’s just horrifying to think about.”

Ianto laughed as he came up behind her and hugged her while putting snuggling his head by her neck. Iris held her breath at the feeling, an electric-like sensation shooting down her spine. She stopped washing her dishes and leaned back, feeling the warmth radiate from his body.

But that special moment was interrupted when her cell phone rang out. She looked at the caller ID and sighed. It was Jack Harkness. Ianto chuckled, knowing that if Jack called in the middle of the afternoon like this when he was working, it was clear that this was no casual call. Iris answered with,

“Hey Jack. What is it?”

There was a moment of silent hesitance coming form the other side as Jack slowly said,

“I wouldn’t like to do this to you while you’re taking a break with Ianto, but I have gotten a request from UNIT for a Torchwood member to help them with something. They said they wanted either me or you since we have some experience working with the Doctor and they wanted to utilize the people who had traveled with him.”

Iris nodded as Ianto furrowed his brows at that and Jack answered their questions with,

“I’m currently swarmed with phone calls that I tried pushing back earlier and now I can’t go. If it’s alright with you, I think it’s best if you go over there and help them out.”

Iris smiled and said, “Sure. It’s no problem. It would be great to get out of my house for a while.”

Ianto nodded, liking that as he said, “I’ll help her prepare for the trip. Don’t worry about her Jack.”

They heard Jack’s voice lift at the thought of Iris getting help from Ianto and said,

“Thanks Ianto. Don’t do anything exciting without me.”

Iris rolled her eyes at that and said, “Don’t worry, Jack. Ianto’s not going to pout like you do.”

Ianto laughed at that and said, “Oh, definitely not.”

This caused Jack to grumble in complaint to the comment and Iris merely joked at him about him being so sensitive for such a flirtatious man. This caused Ianto laugh even harder, making Iris smile at that. It was nice to see him laugh in such a carefree manner. Ianto losing his polite mannerisms were special for her as she saw him truly feel comfortable around her.

They ended the phone call and Iris sighed as she said, “I guess I got to go back to work then.”

Ianto just chuckled as he said, “You know you missed it.”

Iris smiled and said, “Well, around you all, yes. But around the soldiers of UNIT? Not really. They’re too militaristic for my taste.”

Ianto nodded, knowing what she meant as he said, “Well, it’s only a short moment. And since he is going to be there, might as well go and travel again for a while.”

Iris smiled gratefully at him and said, “Thanks. Explain that to Jack for me.”

Ianto nodded and helped her pack for the trip to UNIT. She then drove over to the station early next morning. Once she arrived at the ATMOS factory, Iris saw Martha approach her as she said,

“Iris! You’re here! Thank goodness.”

Iris laughed happily, seeing her friend again as she said, “I’m glad to see you too. I’m here to repay the favor.”

Martha hugged her tightly and said, “Well, we gotta call him down, wherever, whenever he is.”

Iris just smiled at that and signaled for her to do so. Martha pulled her phone out and dialed the phone number, calling it. They waited eagerly for the receiver and when they heard the confused,

“Hello?”

 Iris contacted him via the bond she shared with the Doctor and said, “It’s Martha. We just need you to come here for a bit.”

The Doctor sent a slightly confused thought over to her when Martha smirked and said,

“Doctor? It’s Martha, and I’m bringing you back to Earth.”

Iris and Martha waited for the TARDIS to materialize. When they heard the familiar ‘whorp’ sound of the TARDIS, both smiled, reminiscing the happy days they experienced. They waited for the door to open. When the Doctor popped out of the TARDIS, he beamed his childish smile and said,

“Martha Jones!”

Martha chuckled at seeing her friend after such a long time and said, “Doctor” as she approached him for a hug. Iris smiled at that and cleared her throat after a while and said,

“I’m hurt. I want a hug too.”

The Doctor looked up and smiled even more, almost making him resemble the Cheshire cat as he yelled out in excitement,

“Iris!!!!”

Iris winced when the Doctor ran to her and wrapped her into his arms. Iris felt the air leave her at the over-enthusiastic hug as she laughed at that. However, she was quickly reminded of something and she hit him on the shoulder, causing him to whelp in pain as he looked at her in surprise as he massaged the sore spot.

“What was that for?!” He asked, confused from her sudden punch to his shoulder.

She glared at him while raising an eyebrow at him. She asked him through their bond, “Really? Do you not remember?”

The Doctor winced at that and he guiltily said, “Oh…”

Martha looked between them and asked, “I’m missing something aren’t I? Doctor, what did you do?”

The Doctor’s face was obviously filled with guilt when Iris just rolled her eyes as she answered for him,

“This particular Time Lord here, has saved me during an incident by furthering the bond with me without my permission. I still have to give him a good scolding on that later. But since we’re busy today, we should all get acquainted. Donna Noble, this is Martha Jones.”

Donna popped out of the TARDIS, seeing the other woman with happy surprise, having heard amazing stories about the woman from Iris. She came over to shake Martha’s hand and said,

“I’ve heard all about you. They talk about you all the time.”

Martha blushed and looked embarrassed as she muttered, “I dread to think.”

Donna quickly responded with, “No, no, no. No, they say nice things. Good things. Nice things. Really good things.”

Martha saw the look in Donna’s eyes and her own widened as she realized out loud,

“Oh my God. He’s told you everything.”

Donna looked down at something glistening on Martha’s hand and smirked as she said, “Didn’t take long to get over it though. Who’s the lucky man?”

The Doctor frowned at that and asked, “What man? Lucky what?”

Iris laughed at that and said, “She’s engaged. Look at her ring.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows shot up as he saw the ring that Martha displayed in front of him as he asked, “Really? Who to?”

Martha blushed as she said, “Tom. Tom Milligan. He’s in pediatrics. Working out in Africa right now. And yes, I know I’ve got a doctor who disappears off to distant places. Tell me about it.”

Donna asked, “Is he skinny?” Looking over to the Doctor, the three women smirked as Martha blushed even further as she said,

“No, he’s sort of… strong.”

Donna laughed out loud as she pointed to the Time Lord and remarked, “He, is too skinny for words. You give him a hug, you get a paper cut.”

The Doctor groaned as he muttered quietly to himself, “Oh, I’d rather you were fighting.”

Iris said to him, “Ego…” and the Doctor just groaned at that. But Iris noticed a small tug at the tip of his lips as he was clearly hiding his smile. But Iris quickly sobered up as Martha pulled out her walkie-talkie and the three people heard a woman say through the device,

“Doctor Jones, report to base, please. Over.”

Martha answered with, “This is Doctor Jones. Operation Blue Sky is go, go, go. I repeat, this is a go.”

That was when Donna and the Doctor saw the convoy of jeeps, trucks and a squad of the Parachute Regiment go past them. They followed Martha as the UNIT medic said,

“Greyhound Six to Trap One. B Section, go, go, go. Search the ground floor. Grid pattern delta.”

Iris sighed and just walked alongside Donna. Donna looked down and saw Iris as she asked, “Are you feeling better? How long has it been?”

Iris smiled gratefully as she said, “It’s been a full two weeks so it’s definitely better. I was resting well and it was nice. The wound doesn’t hurt much anymore and I can do more activities. Thank you for asking.”

Donna nodded and said, “I hope that you don’t have to go through that again, but I think that might be a far-fletched request considering where you work.”

Iris chuckled as she shook her head and said, “Yeah, that’s probably not the best thing to expect from me. I think I just attract danger.”

Donna laughed lightly at that as they continued to follow the Doctor and Martha, who were discussing things about why she had called them over, and looking around her, she asked seriously,

“Is this what he did to her and you? Turned her into a soldier and you into a super-spy?”

Iris smiled sadly as she said, “It’s not all he does. There’s a beautiful woman called Jo who goes around the world saving the planet. Then there’s also Sarah Jane who protects the world in her own way with K-9. One day, he will leave us and I guess each of us have different ways to cope with that. But you also have to remember that he feels pain probably more than we do when he loses our friendship. Remember that Donna Noble.”

Donna looked at the Doctor and remembered how she had told the Doctor to not be alone. And she nodded to Iris. When they arrived at the Mobile HQ of UNIT, Iris sighed as she had to recite her government-provided number to the officer in front of her as he double-checked her identity. Once that was dealt with, Iris came in to hear Martha say,

“Operation Blue Sky complete, sir. Thanks for letting me take the lead. And, this is the Doctor and Iris. Doctor, Iris, Colonel Mace.

The Colonel looked at the two and saluted towards them with, “Sir, ma’am.”

The Doctor groaned out, “Oh, don’t salute.”

Colonel looked at Iris, who looked confused and said, “Please, I don’t deserve that. Also, I’m not a soldier.”

The Colonel shirked that and he said, “But it’s an honor. I’ve read all the files on you two. Technically speaking, you’re still on staff sir. You never resigned. And ma’am, you’re well-known among us. You’re a legend.”

Iris grimaced at that and shook her head while Donna looked at the Doctor and asked him incredulously,

“What, you used to work for them?”

The Doctor grimaced as he admitted, “Yeah, long time ago. Back in the ‘70s. Or was it the ‘80s? But it was all a bit more homespun back then.”

Mace looked at him seriously as he said, “Times have changed, sir.”

Iris rolled her eyes while the Doctor just narrowed his eyes at the man and said, “Yeah, that’s enough of the sir.” He was clearly annoyed and Iris told Mace,

“Don’t refer to him or me that way. We’re not soldiers. Or at least he doesn’t want to admit it. So just let it go.”

Mace looked like he wanted to argue against that when Martha jumped in with,

“Come on, though, Doctor. You’ve seen it. You’ve been on board the Valiant. We’ve got massive funding from the United Nations, all in the name of Home World Security.”

Iris muttered under her breath, “The lot of good that group will do.”

Donna looked at Iris in surprise. Iris was only hateful towards people when they really deserved it, and she was not sure what caused her to be so angry about the United Nations. Weren’t they supposed to be the good guys?

But Mace supported Martha as he said, “A modern UNIT for the modern world.”

Donna realized why Iris did not particularly like Mace as she bit back,

“What, and that means arresting ordinary factory workers, in the streets, in broad daylight? It’s more like Guantanamo Bay out there. Donna, by the way. Donna Noble, since you didn’t ask. I’ll have a salute.”

Iris smiled, proud of Donna. When Mace just dumbly looked at the Doctor, Iris cleared her throat and glared at the Colonel, causing him to quickly salute her and say, “Ma’am.”

Donna looked smug at that and Iris winked at her. Donna turned back to Mace and said, “Thank you.”

The Doctor just smirked a little bit as he quickly hid it and asked, “Tell me, what’s going on in that factory?”

Mace answered him with, “Yesterday, 52 people died in identical circumstances, right across the world, in 11 different time zones. 5 a.m. in the UK, six a.m. in France, eight a.m. in Moscow, one p.m. in China.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows went into a frown as he heard that and he asked solemnly, “How did they die?”

Iris answered for him, knowing the answer. “They were all inside their cars, which were installed with the new Atmos system.”

Martha added on, “They were poisoned. I checked the biopsies. No toxins. Whatever it is, left the system immediately.”

The Doctor then asked, “What’s ATMOS?”

Donna rolled her eyes, not believing that the Doctor did not know what that was as she said,

“Oh, come on. Even I know that. Everyone’s got ATMOS.”

The Doctor frowned and asked to go into the factory. Martha led the way inside the factory as she said,

“Stands for Atmospheric Omission System. Fit ATMOS in your car, it reduces CO2 emissions to zero.”

The Doctor put on his glasses to study the ATMOS in front of him and asked, “Zero? No carbon, none at all?”

Donna answered with, “And you get sat-nav and twenty quid in shopping vouchers if you introduce a friend. Bargain.”

Mace stepped in, having followed the group as he said, “And this is where they make it, Doctor. Shipping worldwide. 17 factories across the globe, but this is the central depot, sending ATMOS to every country on Earth.”

The Doctor frowned seeing how Iris wasn’t really paying attention, as she was contacting someone using her phone. He paid her no mind as he said a little frustrated,

“And you think ATMOS is alien.”

Iris scoffed at that, but did not stop her texting with someone. The Doctor asked through the bond,

“Who are you texting?”

Iris gave a sensation almost as if she was inwardly shrugging as she responded back, “My team. Something happened and I can’t help them out.”

The Doctor then turned to face her as he asked, “Is everything alright?”

Iris nodded as she responded back, “It should be. I know the case they’re working on. It’s not something too bad. They will be able to handle it perfectly.”

The Doctor grabbed her hand and said, “Let me know if something happens. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t do anything.”

Iris smiled gratefully at him and tightened her grasp on his hand for a second before letting it slide away as she walked towards Donna while the group walked inside the office. As they entered, Mace said,

“And here it is, laid bare, ATMOS can be threaded through any and every make of car.”

Iris shook her head and said, “You should have had it checked more thoroughly. This isn’t a normal device.”

Martha shrugged as she said, “We did. We found nothing. That’s why I thought we needed an expert.”

The Doctor was looking at some other machinery as he asked, “Really, who’d you get?”

When he turned around to see how everyone in the room were staring at him, he gulped a little as he realized what Martha meant as he said,

“Oh, right. Me. Yes, good.”

Iris scoffed at that and Martha and Mace left the room momentarily. Donna was looking through a binder consisting of all the work logs as she asked,

“Okay. So why would aliens be so keen on cleaning up our atmosphere?”

The Doctor looked towards Iris expectantly, knowing that she had the answer to this question. Iris noticed the pleading look in his eyes as she shook her head and said, “Sorry Spaceman. Spoilers.”

The Doctor groaned and Donna mused out loud, “Maybe they want to help. Get rid of pollution and stuff.”

Iris shook her head as she said, “That’s not exactly why they are doing this I’m afraid.”

The Doctor frowned and whispered, “Do you know how many cars there are on planet Earth? Eight hundred million. Imagine that. If you could control them, you’d have eight hundred million weapons.”

Iris helped look at some of the older work logs while Donna looked at the recent ones. The Doctor, on the other hand, was studying the ATMOS components as he said,

“Ionising nano-membrane carbon dioxide converter. Which means that ATMOS works. Filters the CO2 at a molecular level.”

Mace had come back and asked impatiently, “We know all that, but what’s its origin? Is it alien?”

The Doctor looked up and realized how close Mace was. The Time Lord stepped back as he answered with a grumble,

“No. Decades ahead of its time. Look, do you mind? Could you stand back a bit?”

The Colonel looked a little annoyed that the Doctor was telling him to stay away as he asked,

“Sorry, have I done something wrong?”

Iris looked up from the log she was studying with a matter-of-fact tone, “You’re carrying a gun. The Doctor does not like people with guns hanging around him. Even I’m not allowed to carry one whenever we’re together.”

Mace sighed as he stood a few steps away from the man as he said, “If you insist.” With that, he left the room while Martha snorted and said, “Tetchy.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes as he kept studying the machine, “Well, it’s true.”

Martha argued back, “He’s a good man.”

The Doctor merely muttered, “People with guns are usually the enemy in my books. You seem quite at home.”

Iris bristled in annoyance at the statement and sent him an angry sensation through the bond, causing the Time Lord to wince as he realized what he had just said. Martha looked angry as well as she said,

“If anyone got me used to fighting, it’s you.”

The Doctor glared at Martha a little bit in annoyance as he said, “Oh right, so it’s my fault.”

Iris realized how Martha was getting angrier and pushing the Doctor’s buttons as she responded with, “Well, you got me the job. Besides, look at me. Am I carrying a gun?”

The Doctor paused as he realized something and admitted with shame, “Suppose not.”

Iris got up, sighing as she walked over to the Doctor and grabbed his hand while saying, “It’s all right for you. You can just come and go, but some of us have got to stay behind. So Martha and I’ve got to work from the inside, and by staying inside, maybe I stand a chance of making them better.”

The Doctor smiled warmly as he said, “That’s more like you two.”

Martha smiled back as she said, “We learned from the best.”

The Doctor shrugged his shoulders as he looked bashful at that and drawled, “Well…”

But before he could say anything else, Donna entered, looking smug as she said, “Oi, you lot. All your storm troopers and sonics. You’re rubbish. Should’ve come with me.”

Iris laughed at that and nodded with a thumb up while the Doctor looked confused as he asked,

“Why, where have you been?”

Donna rolled her eyes as she responded with, “Personnel. That’s where the weird stuff’s happening, in the paperwork. Because I spent years working as a temp, I can find my way round an office blindfold, and the first thing I noticed is an empty file.”

The Doctor looked confused as he asked, “Why, what’s inside it?”

Donna looked exasperated as she showed him the contents of the binder she had grabbed as the Doctor did not quite get it and asked, “Or what’s not inside it?”

Iris looked over with a smirk while Donna explained, “Sick days. There aren’t any. Hundreds of people working here and no one’s sick. Not one hangover, man flu, sneaky little shopping trip, nothing. Not ever. They don’t get ill.”

Mace frowned, finally realizing what the woman was hinting at as he mumbled, “That can’t be right.”

Donna jus gave an exasperated look over at Iris and the woman just smiled back, proud of the companion in front of her. Iris spoke to the UNIT officer, “You’ve been checking out the building. Should have checked out the workforce too.”

Martha smiled at Donna warmly as she nudged the current time traveling companion as she said, “I can see why he likes you.”

Donna beamed at that, feeling a lot better about what she had found and nodded. Iris found that adorable and hugged Donna tightly, surprising the companion. Donna giggled at Iris’ sudden antics and just hugged her back as Iris called her,

“Super woman!”

Donna laughed, finding that hilarious and shook her head as she smirked and said, “Nah, I think I’m more of a Super temp.”

Iris shook her head at that, pouting and said, “No, you’re definitely superwoman.”

Martha chuckled at the way Iris acted around Donna, when they all sobered up when Mace interrupted them and said,

“Doctor Jones, set up a medical post. Start examining the workers. I’ll get them sent through.”

Iris sighed, not liking the tone Mace talked to Martha and when the man had walked away from them, Iris stuck her tongue out at the man, causing the other two women to laugh out loudly while Martha quickly regained her senses as she cleared her throat before saying,

“Come on, Donna. Give me a hand.”

But they all could see that Martha still had amusement in her eyes and the little tilt in her lips as she tried hard to keep the serious demeanor on her face. They separated themselves from the Doctor to go to the personnel office. When they arrived, Iris said to the Doctor via their bond,

“You better behave. And if you think about going somewhere, better take Donna and me. I wouldn’t want you to get somewhere and have nobody to help you out.”

The Doctor gave a surprised “Of course! Never would leave you behind Iris. Never.”

Iris smiled at that, appreciating his words. She just gave a feeling of approval through their bond flow while she could feel the intense amount of curiosity emanating from the Doctor. She turned around, looking at the office when she heard Donna ask the two women,

“Do you think I should warn my mum about the ATMOS in her car?”

Iris nodded while Martha looked up from her work as she answered back, “Better safe than sorry.”

Donna looked grim as she pulled her phone out and said, “I’ll give her a call.”

As Donna walked away a little, Martha sighed and asked Iris, “Does her family know where she is? I mean, that she’s traveling with the Doctor?”

Iris sighed, knowing Martha’s concern as she answered with, “Not really. Her grandfather somewhat knows, but he probably doesn’t realize how dangerous it can get. I don’t think she had the time to properly explain. Just like you, really.”

Martha grimaced at that and wondered out loud, “I didn’t tell my family. I kept it all so secret, and it almost destroyed them.”

Iris didn’t say anything back at that. She wondered whether when the right time would be to tell the Time Lord about Zagreus. Whenever she thinks that it will fade, it started to come back and haunt her. And then there was also the issue with Jack’s brother. His arrival was approaching and she wasn’t sure what to tell Jack. Noticing Iris’ distress, Martha asked,

“Iris? What’s wrong?”

Iris lifted her head to meet Martha’s concerned face. Iris sighed heavily and said, “I’m not sure if I can share this…”

Martha looked grim and asked, “Spoilers?”

Iris didn’t really know how to answer that and said, “Yes? No? It’s really complicated. Maybe it is for me, but not for you…”

Martha looked confused at that and Iris said, “There’s something that’s been bothering me. Especially more since that night after Reset…”

Martha nodded, indicating Iris to continue. After hesitating for a few minutes, warily glancing at Donna, who was still talking to her mother, Iris finally said,

 “I… I’ve been hearing this man’s voice. I know who he is… But the name he calls me with… it’s something I don’t know what to think about… At first, I thought it was all a hallucination on my part, I still had that bond with the Master after all. But when I got shot at the Pharm… I heard it again. And then I had this vision… and… it terrifies me.”

Iris trembled a little as goosebumps rose over her skin. Martha stood up and hugged her as she said to the younger woman,

“What did you see?”

Iris shook her head, stating, “My own future. I… I realize that I might not be able to avoid it… but the sheer damage of me telling or not telling the Doctor is painful to think about.”

Martha frowned at that and asked softly, “Why?”

Iris sighed and said, “It was part of his past. It already happened. It was part of his worst experiences… that’s why I can’t tell him. I want to, but I just don’t know when is the right time.”

Martha studied the woman in front of her with concern and hugged her again, not sure what to say. That was when Donna came in after her phone call had ended and asked, “Is Iris alright?”

Iris pulled away from Martha and smiled, hiding the pain away and just nodded as she said, “I’m fine.”

Donna looked hesitant about fully believing her, but she nodded when Martha shook her head slightly, asking her to not push the question further. Whatever it was Iris had shared, it was up for Iris to resolve. Something that both women could not help her with. Donna sighed and said,

“I had trouble persuading my mum about the ATMOS, but I got her to not get in the car at least. So there’s that.”

Iris nodded. Once they got what they needed to find from the personnel office, Donna and Iris headed back to the other part of the ATMOS factory. Martha said that she needed to check some more information and headed to the medical post. Iris took a glance back, not sure if she really wanted Martha to be alone, but this was probably for the best. She didn’t want to interfere too much with the timeline. The last time she did that, it led to consequences. Not too severe, but Iris couldn’t make head to tails of it and decided that it was best if she stopped interfering and changing so much for a while. When she and Donna finally ran into the Doctor and Mace, Donna walked briskly up to the Doctor and called out for him. The Doctor looked up and said,

“Oh, just in time. Come on, come on, we’re going to the country. Fresh air and geniuses, what more could you ask?”

Donna tiredly said, “I’m not coming with you. I’ve been thinking. I’m sorry.”

Iris could feel the sadness and disappointment flow through from the Doctor as he misinterpreted Donna’s words. She couldn’t blame him though, Donna was being very vague about what she meant. The Doctor’s smile had clearly disappeared from his face as he asked with puppy eyes,

“Really?”

Donna didn’t notice this quick change in his demeanor as she just nodded and said, “I’ve got to.”

The Doctor shifted his feet, feeling sad about Donna’s apparent departure while Iris went up to him and grabbed his hand, sending waves of comfort. However, Iris was trying her best not to laugh out loud as she knew what Donna really meant. She just kept her poker face on, which was slowly falling apart while the Doctor did not notice this and rambled,

“Oh, if that’s what you want. I mean, it’s a bit soon. I had so many places I had wanted to take you and Iris. The 15th Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, the Lightning Skies of Cotter Palluni’s World, Diamond Coral Reefs of Kataa Flo Ko…”

His eyes a little teary at the thought of their adventure ending, he said, “Thank you. Thank you, Donna Noble, it’s been brilliant. You’ve, you’ve saved my life in so many ways… You’re…”

That’s when he felt the trembling come from Iris. He glanced down and froze as he saw Iris cover her mouth with her other hand and he immediately went down to see if she was alright. He froze at how he noticed that Iris was not crying nor looked uncomfortable. Rather, Iris could not hold her laughter in and started laughing out loudly. He looked confused until he looked back at Donna, who was chuckling too and then he realized what was happening. He glared a little at Iris as he said to Donna,

“You’re just popping home for a visit, that’s what you mean… isn’t it?”

Donna smirked a little as she nodded while drawing out, “You dumbo…”

The Doctor blushed in embarrassment, while Iris just laughed harder, holding her stomach as if it started to ache as the Doctor muttered out,

“And then you’re coming back.”

Iris started to struggle to breathe from her laughter as Donna continued to tease him with, “Know what you are? A great big outer space dunce.”

Donna started laughing out loud too due to Iris’ infectious laughter and the Doctor just brushed the back of his head with his fingers in embarrassment. He tried to shake it off and sighed in relief when the soldier Jenkins walked over and said, “Ready when you are, sir.”

Iris slowly sobered up while Donna said, “What’s more, you can give me a lift. Come on.”

And as Donna was getting in the car, Donna turned around and asked with a teasing smirk, “Broken moon of what?”

The Doctor shook his head as he grabbed Iris’ hand to lead her to the vehicle as he muttered out,

“I know, I know.”

Jenkins drove them around and Iris awkwardly shifted. She had been placed tightly between Jenkins and the Doctor, causing her to tensely sit in the tight space. When they arrived on Rydale street, she sighed in relief as Donna exited the vehicle, freeing up some more space. She heard the woman say,

“I’ll walk the rest of the way. I’ll see you back at the factory, yeah?”

The Doctor and Iris both nodded as Iris waved and smiled while the Doctor shouted, “Bye!”

Donna glared and pointed at the Doctor while saying, “And you be careful!”

Iris chuckled at that while the Doctor just glared as he muttered something incomprehensible. With that, the trio drove towards Rattigan Academy. The Doctor filled her in the information he had gathered along the way. Once they arrived near the grounds, Jenkins said,

“UNIT’s been watching Rattigan Academy for ages. It’s all a bit Hitler Youth. Exercise at dawn and classes and special diets.”

The little ATMOS machine then indicated, “turn left.”

Iris grimaced and the Doctor asked,

“Ross, one question. If UNIT thinks that ATMOS is dodgy…”

The soldier indicated for the Time Lord to continue with the question,

“How come we’ve got it in the jeeps? Yeah, tell me about it. They’re fitted as standard on all government vehicles. We can’t get rid of them till we can prove there’s something wrong.”

The ATMOS kept giving them directions until they finally arrived. Iris looked at the building with awe before shaking her head. She wasn’t here to sight-see. Rather, this was an important case. She had to focus. The trio then saw students running around the building as the Doctor excitedly asked,

“Is it PE? I wouldn’t mind a kick around, I’ve got me daps on.”

Iris elbowed the Time Lord in annoyance and he just shrugged it of while Luke Rattigan said,

“I suppose you’re the Doctor and you’re Iris?”

The two nodded. Iris shook his hand, but immediately took it back. She knew what was in store for the kid, but she still couldn’t take his attitude. His arrogance was getting on her nerves.

Rattigan just looked over to the Doctor as he said, “Your commanding officer phoned ahead.”

Iris rolled her eyes as she said, “But he doesn’t have a commanding officer. Oh, and by the way, the gentleman over here is Ross.”

Ross shook the boy’s hand and said, “Good afternoon, sir.”

The Doctor cleared his throat and suggested, “Let’s have a look, then. I can smell genius! In a good way.”

Iris rolled her eyes teasingly, causing a small smile to grow on Ross’ face. The boy gave led them to the laboratory for the academy, which was filled with different sorts of technology that impressed not only the Doctor, but also Iris. As Torchwood’s assistant technician, this was an impressive collection of technology that she would have liked to study extensively. As they walked in further into the room, the Doctor whistled and said,

“Oh, now, that’s clever. Look Iris! Single molecule fabric, how thin is that?! You could pack a tent in a thimble. Oooh!”

With that, he grabbed her hand and led her closer to the technology as he said, “Gravity simulators. Terraforming, biospheres, nano-tech steel construction. This is brilliant. Do you know, with equipment like this you could, oh, I don’t know, move to another planet or something?”

Iris raised an eyebrow, understanding the hidden suggestion within his very vague question. Rattigan seemed to have noticed to, trying to act ignorant about it as he shrugged it off with,

“If only that was possible.”

The Doctor corrected him with, “If only that were possible. Conditional clause.”

Iris rolled her eyes at that, but didn’t say anything while Rattigan ignored the statement and said,

“I think you’d better come with me.”

Iris realized that she was still holding the Doctor’s hand and let go. This caused the Doctor to look down at her and then realize it too, causing the Time Lord to rub the back of his neck in the awkwardness. The duo looked away from each other, acting as if they hadn’t just had that interaction, but Ross from UNIT noticed this.

When they walked into the recreation room, they saw the swimming pool and a transmat in the corner. Iris stared at the transmat, wanting to get a closer look, but Rattigan grabbed her attention as he said to the Doctor and Iris,

“You’re smarter than the usual UNIT grunts, I’ll give you that.”

Iris scoffed and said, “I’m not part of UNIT. Torchwood, at your service.”

The Doctor shook his head. He knew that Torchwood changed under Jack, but he still did not approve of their use in guns. He noticed that Iris had hers with her due to Torchwood regulations, but he still didn’t like it. But he quickly put on his nonchalant attitude as he told Ross,

“He called you a grunt. Don’t call Ross a grunt. He’s nice. We like Ross.”

Iris nudged him with her elbow again as she muttered, “Rambling.”

The Doctor immediately stopped his distracted talking as he said, “Look at this place…”

The boy was getting annoyed at the Doctor as he asked, “What exactly do you want?”

Iris stepped up as she responded with, “We were thinking. You’re super responsible for an 18-year-old. Inventing zero carbon cars at that age? You’re practically saving the world.”

Luke looked smug at her compliment and said, “Takes a man with a vision.”

The Doctor added on though with a look of disappointment, “Mmm, blinkered vision. Because ATMOS means more people driving. More cars, more petrol. End result, the oil’s going to run out faster than ever. The ATMOS system would make things worse.”

Luke looked frustrated and corrected the Doctor with, “Yeah, well, you see, that’s a tautology. You can’t say ATMOS system because it stands for Atmospheric Emissions System. So you’re just saying Atmospheric Emissions System system. Do you see, Mister Conditional Clause?”

Iris snapped at that, not liking the tone as she called him out with, “Ok, we get it. No need to be rude.”

The Doctor held her shoulder to calm her down as he looked at Luke and said, “It’s been a long time since anyone said no to you, isn’t it?”

Luke smirked at that and said, “I’m still right though.”

The Doctor shook his head at him and honestly said, “Not easy, is it, being clever. You look at the world and you connect things, random things, and think, why can’t anyone else see it? The rest of the world is so slow.”

The kid looked hesitant, as he slowly admitted, “Yeah.”

Iris gave the kid a small smile at that. She would never understand how the Doctor’s mind worked, but she knew that it wasn’t easy to be alone. Iris whispered on,

“And you’re all on your own.”

Luke saw the sad glance she sent him and he admitted once again, “I know.”

Iris went up to the kid and just hugged him, surprising the boy. But he let out a shaky breath, having admitted something from his vulnerable side. The confident and arrogant kid had a vulnerable side and Iris appreciated him admitting it to them. The Doctor smiled proudly at Iris’ actions and said,

“But not with this. Because there’s no way you invented this thing single-handed. I mean, it might be Earth technology, but that’s like finding a mobile phone in the Middle Ages. No, no, I’ll tell you what it’s like… It’s like finding this in the middle of someone’s front room. Albeit, it’s a very big front room.”

He had indicated towards the transmat and Iris let go of Luke and looked at him, wanting him to tell them the truth. She said, “Luke, I know what that is… can you elaborate on where it takes you?”

Luke looked terrified at how she and the Doctor knew what that was, but Ross looked very confused as he asked,

“Why, what is it?”

Before the Doctor could ramble on, Iris quickly answered, “It’s a teleport pod.”

Ross looked confused as to how the boy would even have one when the Doctor approached it and Luke began to panic as he said,

“Leave it alone.”

But it was too late as the Doctor had already stepped into it and already pushed the button before vanishing. Luke looked terrified at that and Iris turned towards him, saying,

“Luke, I know that you were helping the Sontarans with whatever they requested from you. But that’s not going to help the humankind. As much as I wish the story was different, you should realize how dangerous they are.”

Luke shook his head and asked, “How did you know?”

Iris looked at him with a small, sad smile and answered, “I have a way. It’s not pleasant to know everything beforehand like I do. Trust me. But Luke, I know that you want to travel around the universe, but this isn’t the right way.”

At that, the younger boy in front of her looked immensely guilty as he asked, “What are they planning? Do you know that too?”

Iris nodded and Luke saw the pure guilt emanating from just her eyes alone and he asked, “It’s not good, is it? I was fooled?”

Iris didn’t say anything but Luke understood. But as he was about to ask another question, the Doctor returned with a panicked but also angry look as he yelled out,

“Ross, Iris get out!” Luke, you’ve got to come with me.”

Iris quickly pulled Ross and Luke further away from the teleport pod as she yelled back, “We’re not leaving you alone! I know how many stupid decisions you make without me. No way I’m leaving you to deal with this?”

The Doctor looked at her disbelievingly and Iris just glared at him when a Sontaran appeared and the Doctor said,

“Sontaran! That’s your name isn’t it? You’re a Sontaran. How did I know that, hey? Fascinating isn’t it? Isn’t that worth keeping me alive?”

Before Ross could raise his gun, Iris stopped him with, “Don’t. You’re gun isn’t going to work. The cordolaine signal stops the bullets. We’re weaponless at this point.”

Ross wanted to refute that, but Iris looked strictly at him and said, “I’m giving you an order Ross as a Torchwood member. We’re above the government and you know that. I don’t like giving commands, but you should really listen. Aiming that gun only justifies them to bring their army and kill UNIT soldiers for no reason.”

The Sontaran heard Iris’ explanation of the cordolaine signal and he asked incredulously,

“How do you two know so much?”

The Doctor shrugged and drew out, “Well…”

The Sontaran soldier looked over to Luke, who hid behind Iris’ straight and protective form as he asked, “Who are they?”

Luke hesitated, looking over at Iris, who just nodded for him to answer, and he said, “He didn’t give his name. This is…”

Iris interrupted him with, “Iris. That’s all you need to know General.”

The Doctor’s eyebrows went up in surprise at how Iris referred to the Sontaran and he realized that she knew who this was. Before the Sontaran could say anything to that, he immediately drew the soldier’s attention to him as he said,

“But this isn’t typical Sontaran behavior is it? Hiding? Using teenagers, stopping bullets? A Sontaran should face bullets with dignity. Shame on you.”

Iris bit her lower lip, not sure what to do, but she made sure Ross’ gun stayed down while Luke stood behind her. They all heard the voice turn angry as he demanded,

“You dishonor me, sir.”

The Doctor kept angering the Sontaran with, “Yeah? Then show yourself.”

The Sontaran moved to take his helmet off as he said, “I will look into my enemy’s eyes!”

Once the helmet was removed, Iris heard Ross mutter, “Oh, my God.”

Iris wasn’t sure what to think. She finally saw a real Sontaran for the first time, and yet she didn’t feel that affected by how he looked. Rather, something in her bubbled with anger. Anger at what was to come. She quickly toned it down, not wanting to worry the Doctor as she just grabbed Luke’s hand to help calm him down. The boy had paled considerably and Ross just kept staring at the Sontaran in front of him.

The Doctor quickly asked, “And your name?”

The Sontaran answered with, “General Staal, of the 10th Sontaran Fleet. Staal the Undefeated.”

The Doctor immediately frowed as he said, “Oh, that’s not a very good nickname. What if you do get defeated? Staal the Not Quite So Undefeated Anymore But Never Mind?”

Iris hissed, “Doctor!” The Doctor immediately stopped talking, but it didn’t stop Ross from muttering,

“He’s like a potato. A baked potato. A talking baked-”

Iris cut in again as she reprimanded Ross with, “We all get it. And stop being rude. We don’t exactly normal to him either.”

“Almost like a pink weasel.” The Doctor piped up.

Iris glared over at him and said to him via bond, “Really? Is now the best time?”

“Sorry…” He replied back at her. She just shook her head as she looked over at the Sontaran and said,

“The Sontarans are known as the finest soldiers in the galaxy, dedicated to a life of warfare. A clone race, grown in batches of millions with only one weakness.”

General Staal looked offended at that and said, “Sontarans have no weakness.”

The Doctor shook his head and continued with, “No, it’s a good weakness,”

Rattigan asked Iris with a whisper, “Aren’t you two meant to be clever? Only idiots would provoke him.”

Iris just whispered back, “Don’t worry, he knows what he’s doing. I’m just saying what he eventually would have anyway.”

Luke didn’t look that convinced but hid behind her again as the Doctor continued to play with the squash ball and the racket while saying,

“The Sontarans are fed by a probic vent in the back of their neck. That’s their weak spot. Which means, they always have to face their enemies in battle. Isn’t that brilliant? They can never turn their backs.”

Ross and Luke shivered a the sudden cold tone that came from the short speech while Iris just grabbed their hands as Staal proclaimed,

“We stare into the face of death.”

The Doctor just shrugged while saying, “Yeah? Well, stare at this.” With that, he immediately threw the ball and smashed it with the racket so that it hit the back of the teleport pod, eventually rebounding to hit Staal right on the probic vent, causing the Sontaran general to slump to his knees.

Iris turned the two men around and yelled out “Run!” at the same time the Doctor did. With that, all four of them began bolting while Luke asked incredulously,

“What have you done? What has he exactly done?”

Iris grit her teeth as she said, “He hit the weak spot, why do you think he mentioned it?”

Luke shut up at that. But as the Doctor and Ross headed towards the jeep, Luke stopped and said, “I can’t go. The kids here…”

Iris eyed him warily and nodded, understanding what he meant. She said, “Clear the area. We’ll be back, but contact me using this if you get found by the Sontarans. Act as if you’re on their side if they act like they need you.”

Luke nodded and grabbed the little communication device Iris handed him. He hid it easily in his pocket, appreciating the advanced tech she had given him for emergency measures. With that, he bolted back towards the building to find any other students within the academy. Iris ran back to the jeep and entered. The Doctor quickly checked if she was alright while Ross sped away from the academy.

Once they got some distance, the Iris said, “Greyhound Forty to Trap One. Repeat, can you hear me? Over.”

When there was only silence, Iris cursed while Ross asked, fear kicking in, “Why’s it not working?”

The Doctor responded with, “It must be the Sontarans. If they can trace that, they can isolate the ATMOS.”

Iris grabbed onto the sonic screwdriver from the Doctor’s pocket and started to work on it. However the ATMOS refused to get off of the car as it said, “Turn left.”

 The Doctor urgently said, “Try going right.”

Ross looked confused as he said, “It said left.”

Iris rolled her eyes and said back to him, “Well, we don’t want the Sontarans to lead us to our deaths, do we?”

Ross bit his lower lip and tried turning right, but the jeep just headed left and Ross panicked as he said,

“I’ve got no control. It’s driving itself. It wont’ stop.”

Iris grunted while trying to sonic the ATMOS when she looked up to find the UNIT soldier realize the doors are deadlocked and cursed. Iris yelled out,

“We have to get out of this car now!”

The Doctor felt the urgency of their situation through their bond, glimpsing a little bit of the future that flashed through Iris’ mind, unprotected. He quickly turned to help Ross with stopping the car while Iris was working on the door on her side. That was when her other communicator beeped, and Iris groaned as she read the message from Luke Rattigan.

The Doctor asked her a silent question to her, which she answered with, “Sontarans are with Luke right now.”

That was when Ross yelled out in panic, “We’re headed for the river.”

The Doctor’s face crunched up in concentration as he aske the device, “ATMOS, are you programmed to contradict my orders?”

The voice affirmed this as it said, “Confirmed.”

The Doctor then added, “Anything I say, you’ll ignore it?”

The ATMOS said, “Confirmed.”

Iris nodded to the Doctor, who had glanced her way to make sure she was ready for them. Then he said, “Then drive into the river. I order you to drive into the river. Do it. Drive into the river.”

The jeep jerked forward, causing the trio to slam forwards. The Doctor had reached his arm out to cushion Iris’ impact. Iris quickly grabbed onto his arm for support as she caught onto her breath before kicking the door open and leaping out with him. She rolled on the gravel and felt the Time Lord cover her body as the car suddenly fizzled behind them.

Once the adrenaline died down, Iris looked over at the Doctor, a little embarrassed at how the whole situation turned out as he still held her down. She coughed a little and muttered, “Is Ross alright?”

They both heard Ross wheeze out, “I’m fine!”

The Doctor stood up and offered her his hand for getting up. She grabbed it and stood up to find Ross looking bitter about the jeep as the Doctor asked while blushing,

“Oh, was that it?”

Iris looked up at him and scoffed in disbelief as she just shook her head and said, “Let’s go to Donna.”

Once the trio arrived at the Nobles’ residence, Iris sighed in relief and hugged the companion as she let her nerves calm down for once. Donna looked over her and demanded at the Doctor,

“Now what happened? What did you do?”

The Doctor looked surprised and asked, “Why do you think I did something? You would not believe the day we are having…”

With that, the Time Lord walked over to Donna’s family car and looked inside. He groaned at the sight of the ATMOS that was installed to the car. Iris saw that and she said, “Donna, you should probably get that removed after everything is done.”

Donna looked concerned and she asked, “Is it dangerous?”

Iris nodded, causing Donna to appear alarmed as she decided that it would be best to lock the car doors. Meanwhile, Ross told Iris, “I’ll requisition us a vehicle.”

The Doctor piped up with, “Anything without ATMOS. And don’t point your gun at people.”

Ross nodded, seeing the strict look in Iris’ eyes before the woman turned around to greet Wilf. The elderly man looked excited as he hurried over asking,

“Is it him? Is it him? Is it the Doctor?”

Upon spotting the man Donna had told him about, the man whooped as he hugged the Time Lord and said, “Ah, it’s you!”

The Doctor looked confused as he recognized Wilf and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s you…”

Donna frowned and asked the two men, “What, have you met before?”

Wilf nodded excitedly as he said out loud with amazement, “Yeah, Christmas Eve. He disappeared right in front of me.”

Donna looked over at her grandfather and incredulously asked him, “And you never asked?”

Iris smiled at Wilf, as he nervously answered, “Well, you never said.”

Iris came up to him and introduced herself with, “Sir, it’s an honor to meet Donna’s grandfather. She told me a lot about you. I am Iris Kim, from Torchwood.”

Wilf looked a little uncomfortable at the mention of Torchwood as he asked, “The lot that…?”

Iris grimaced and shook her head as she answered, “We’re a different lot now.”

Wilf nodded while the man shook her hand and then looked over to the Doctor and said,

“Wilf, sir. Wilfred Mott. You must be one of them aliens.”

The Doctor looked a little sheepish at that as he rubbed the back of his neck while muttering, “Yeah, but don’t shout it out. Nice to meet you properly, Wilf.”

Wilf looked at the and that the Doctor grabbed onto and whispered out in amazement, “An alien hand.”

Iris laughed out loud at the adorable look on Wilf as she just teased the Doctor with, “That was the new one.”

Wilf looked up in shock at the announcement and wasn’t sure what to make of it. Donna looked over in surprise too while the Doctor just pouted and asked her, “What does my new hand have to do with anything?”

Iris tipped her head over to Donna and Wilf’s direction, causing the Time Lord to realize why they looked so flabbergasted. He glared back at Iris, who just laughed harder at that. Iris eventually calmed herself down, though her ribs hurt from laughing so hard when she heard the Doctor mutter to himself in thought,

“Sontarans. But there’s got to be more to it. They  can’t be just remote controlling cars. That’s not enough. Is anyone answering?”

Iris looked over to Donna, who was holding her mobile and looked up as she answered,

“Hold on.”

The Doctor looked frustrated and walked up to Iris, who had to look up at him due to height differences. She saw the frustration that underlied the confusion in his eyes as he asked, “Any tips? Spoilers that could be spoiled?”

Iris sighed, wondering if she should really tell him anything, and said, “Sorry. As much as I should know the reason, I don’t remember. If I did, I could have helped you out.”

The Doctor groaned at that and walked away. Iris grimaced and sighed to herself. She actually didn’t remember the cause of this. As much as she was a fan of the show, she hadn’t really liked this two-episode story. She hadn’t rewatched it as much as the others. It just didn’t click with her. And the irony was that though she remembered a lot of the events, she wasn’t necessarily sure about the whole reason behind the Sontarans attacking Earth.

Iris saw Donna walk closer as she was talking to Marth before handing hi the phone. Iris then walked over to Wilf and gently asked him,

“Mr. Noble, I know it’s much, but is it possible to lock your car?”

Wilf, surprised by the request, asked, “Why? Is it dangerous?”

Iris shook her head as she said, “The car, in itself, isn’t that dangerous. Rather, it’s the ATMOS. We don’t want it to poison anyone. Locking the car up should help prevent the airways from flowing through and harming anyone.”

Wilf quickly nodded and went inside the house to fetch the keys. As she waited, the Doctor noticed the keys Wilf had brought and requested to look into the car. Iris quickly pulled him aside and said,

“I think we shouldn’t. Even if we look at it, can you just be careful about it? I’d really rather not deal with whatever is here.”

The Doctor shook his head at that and said, “Yeah, but now that I know the technology is Sontaran, I know what I’m looking for. I have to find it.”

Iris warily eyed Wilf, causing the Doctor to look over his shoulder at the elderly man, sensing her distress through their bond. He gently grabbed her shoulders and made eye contact with her as he whispered, “I promise to be careful and not let Wilf get hurt.”

Iris provided him a small smile, letting him do his job. Wilf came over and said to the duo,

“The thing is Doctor, Miss Iris, that Donna is my only grandchild. You two got to promise me you’re going to take care of her.”

Iris and the Doctor smiled at him warmly as Iris said, “Wilf, Donna actually takes care of us. We just follow her.”

Wilf looked surprised and proud at the same time upon hearing that comment as he said, “Oh, yeah, that’s my Donna. Yeah, she was always bossing us around when she was tiny. The Little General we used to call her.”

Iris chuckled and admitted, “Well that’s better than mine. I was called all sorts of things. Admiral, Lieutenant, and even worse things from there.”

Wilf chuckled as he heard that. The woman had spirit, though different from Donna. Donna tended to be more abrupt and impulsive while Iris seemed calculated. But they both had that fighting spirit that kept them well-rounded with each other around. Donna smiled and said,

“Yeah, don’t start.”

Wilf ignored that and continued wit, “and some of the boys she used to turn up with. Different one every week. Here, who was that one with the nail varnish?”

Iris grimaced a little at that. Donna had the same look on her face while she cringed and answered, “Matthew Richards. He lives in Kilburn now. With a man.”

Suddenly, Iris heard a small noise from within the car. Iris had already locked the car so that Wilf wasn’t going to be trapped inside. She turned around and looked at the Doctor with a grim look as he said,

“Whoa. It’s a temporal pocket. I knew there was something else in there. It’s hidden just a second out of sync with real time.”

Donna curiously asked, “But what’s it hiding?”

That was when Iris spotted Mrs.Noble, Donna’s mother come out and say to all four of them, “I don’t know, men and their cars. Sometimes I think if I was a car.”

Then Sylvia took a closer look over at the Time Lord and said, “Oh, it’s you. Doctor… what was it?”

The Doctor ignored the second question somewhat as he just vaguely said, “Yeah, that’s me.”

Wilf looked over incredulously at his daughter and asked, “What, have you met him as well?”

Sylvia rolled her eyes and pointed at the Time Lord, who looked a little uncomfortable at that and Iris just shook her head at that as the older woman said, “Dad, it’s the man from the wedding. When you were laid up with the Spanish flu. I’m warning you, last time that man turned up it was a disaster.”

Iris, who was standing by the Doctor just chuckled as she told him via bond, “What is it with you and your companions’ mothers?”

The Doctor just glared at her, but as he was about to retort back out loud, they all heard gas get emitted by something and turned around as Iris pulled Wilf back from the car, warning everyone with,

“Get back!”

The Doctor quickly shut the car hood down after sonicking the device that was engrained into the car and muttered, “That’ll stop it.”

Iris just took the sonic and shook her head while saying, “No, it won’t.”

With that, she started deadlocking the car while saying, “Nobody is going to get in this car while the gas is in there. Also, Sylvia and Wilf, could you go back inside the house? It’s not really safe with the gas being emitted not only in your car…”

Wilf and Sylvia glanced, a little wary about following her orders. Iris sighed and pulled out her Torchwood identification and said almost in a soldier-like tone, “I trust both of you to not utter a word about who I am, so please, as order of Torchwood, go back inside and remain in the safety of your home please.”

Donna and the Doctor shared a glance and they were not sure what to think about the authoritative side to Iris. They saw her in various attitudes but this because Iris rarely had to use that tone to anyone. But here she was, taking up that role. Donna didn’t say anything as Iris was really trying to help her family out and it wasn’t mean in any way. It was probably the best way for her mother to acquiesce and follow instructions.

Once the older people went back inside their home, Iris sighed and muttered, “Sorry. I normally don’t like using that tone, but it has to be used sometimes…”

The Doctor shrugged and checked the car, realizing why Iris had deadlocked the car as he said, “That wasn’t just exhaust fumes, was it? Some sort of gas. Artificial gas…”

Donna muttered, “But if it’s poisonous, then they’ve got poisonous gas in every car on Earth.”

Iris cursed as she muttered something to herself, causing the Doctor to glance over and say, “You alright?”

Iris sighed and looked exhausted as she said, “Not feeling too great, mind you. I’m just going through some things…”

The Doctor frowned and immediately asked, “Is everything going alright with Jack?”

Iris nodded, smiling a little wistfully, as she said, “Yeah, it’s going better than before really… It’s just the last case I worked on… it’s been making me think more about… why I was brought to this universe…”

The Doctor grew silent. He felt the distress and gently asked, “If you need to talk about anything, let me know. It’s not good to hold it in.”

Iris smiled gratefully at him and said, “Thanks…” With that, she eyed the car and said, “I might actually have to tell you something. I’m not 100% sure if what I think is accurate… but it’s really important.”

The Doctor looked at her and felt how stressed she was getting. But before he could console her a bit, gas erupted from the exhaust pipe and Iris cursed. Despite her efforts, sometimes things didn’t quite work the way she wanted them to. At least Wilf wasn’t inside the vehicle. Donna came over to the duo after hearing Iris curse (which was quite more than they had ever heard her swear than before), and looked instantly shocked at the gas. She stepped back a little bit as she asked,

“What’s happened?”

The Doctor grip his teeth as he said, “They’ve activated it!”

Iris looked all around the neighborhood and didn’t like what she was seeing. She immediately phone-called Tosh and when the woman had picked up, Iris muttered, “Tosh, I’m sorry if you’re not working right now, but we’re at an international crisis right now…”

Tosh fell silent and she asked, “If you’re talking about the ATMOS, we are trying to hold back the panic from our end here.”

Iris sighed in relief as she said, “Well, good thing our vehicle doesn’t have ATMOS. The UNIT jeep we drove in almost killed us on our way to our current location.”

Tosh sighed, almost as if she was rolling her eyes and said, “Why am I not surprised.”

Iris just chuckled and quickly sobered up as she told the Torchwood technician, “Well, let me know how it goes on your end. Tell Jack that this is a Sontaran issue and the Doctor, Donna and I’m handling it.”

“Got it.” Tosh said. She then added to the Torchwood medic/technician,

“Do you need the Rover?”

Iris responded with, “That would be great. Send Jack over will you?”

Tosh chuckled and said, “He’s already leaving.”

With that, she hung up and walked over to the Doctor and Donna as she said, “We have to get back to the factory. Jack is driving over here to pick us up.”

The duo looked at Iris and nodded as they waited for the 51st century man to come over.