Ianto was racing through a pitch black night; dodging branches and weaving between half-seen trunks. His torch was in his pocket, desperately wanted, but he didn’t dare turn it on. He’d been on the move for hours, ever since the Romans had appeared, swords drawn and tempers high.
He was stuck in the damn Beacons. Again. One day he wanted to come for a normal visit, like a picnic, just to see if it was as nice as everyone claimed, but so far every trip he’d taken out here had ended in misery.
Light blazed behind him, casting shadows among the tress. Shouts followed. He still couldn’t make out the words, only the intent – get HIM, and Jack’s broken voice amidst the soldiers, screaming.
He kept running.
Static crackled across the comm unit in his ear. It had been ages since he’d heard anything from the others. They were either captured like Jack, or working on a way to round up the Romans. He didn’t have breath to spare for them.
Tosh had the scanner, maybe she’d worked out a bit of magic to get the Romans home or contained, Ianto thought, as he kept himself from falling face first into a ditch by the tips of his fingers.
Owen had driven, so he had the keys to the SUV. Bronze-age short swords were no match for the SUV’s carbon steel siding at least. Too bad they hadn’t stayed with the car.
It wasn’t as though Ianto hadn’t been through the list a hundred times; their hopelessly short list of supplies for a night out in the woods. Jack and his brilliant plans!
“Ianto!” Owen’s voice was terrifyingly loud in his ear.
He grunted a reply and kept moving, the flickering light behind him far too close.
“We’ve a plan.”
“Where are you?”
“How the hell should I know?” Ianto whispered as loudly as he dared, then stumbled and fell backwards as the ghostly shape of a barn owl sprang out of the shadows in front of him. “Shit!”
“Fell. Don’t think I broke anything. Covered in muck,” Ianto said in disgust.
“At least you wore jeans.”
“Tosh’s sending up a flare.”
“Where did she get a flare from? Are you at the SUV?”
“Had it in her pocket. Who the hell carries flares in their jacket? But yeah, we’re back at the SUV. So when you see that, head for the sunrise.”
“Sunrise?” Ianto looked around in surprise. Just to his right there was a faint glow of light rimming the horizon.
“Yeah,” Owen said. “Pulled another all-nighter. Jack owes us big time for this.”
A blinding flash of light cut through the darkness behind the on-coming Romans. Their shouts changed, voices getting louder as they argued or marveled at the flare. Then the voices and their torch light moved away from Ianto, towards Tosh’s distraction.
“It worked,” Ianto told Owen.
“Then get your arse moving. Tosh doesn’t want to flip the switch on the containment field until you’re with us. She’s afraid we’ll catch you inside with our friends.”
“Right. I’m on my way.”
Ianto was running, racing against the pain in his lungs and the exhaustion in his muscles. This time at least he had a goal. He was running towards friends and hope.
He pushed himself up a hill, clawing at branches and digging into roots for support. The thin light of dawn played tricks with his eyes, making shadows out of nothing and form out of hollows, but nothing could disguise the bodies standing beside the black bulk of the Torchwood SUV.
He heard Gwen shout as she came running toward him.
“I’ve got you, love.”
Ianto fell into her arms, his lungs heaving. “Jack?”
“He’s fine. Now.”
Gwen turned and called to Tosh, “I’ve got him!”
Blue light flickered. Shouts of anger followed as the misplaced Romans found themselves corralled by Tosh’s technology.
Ianto shivered, too tired even to yawn.
“Shhh,” Gwen whispered. “It’s alright now.”
Ianto nodded and closed his eyes. His blood was still running, but the team was safe, that was all he needed to know, for now.