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Four Times Things Happened Differently (and One Time Things Didn't)

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Nothing Changes
"God, I thought she'd never leave," Suzie says without looking up from her work. Her welding mask is open, but she's still wearing her leather apron and gloves. She turns the knife over in her hands. "How long was she up there? Two hours? "

"Something like that, yeah." Owen leans back in his chair and taps his biro against his chin. "That's the problem with the police these days. They can't see what's right in front of their noses."

"Yeah, well this one almost did." Jack sighs and gives the monitors at Toshiko's station a long look before he snaps attention back to his team. "Anyway, consider it a wake-up call. If PC Cooper up there can get this close, you can bet there are others who'll get a hell of a lot closer given half a chance."

"I suppose that means Owen will have to stop ordering his pizza under 'Torchwood.'" Suzie smirks.

Jack raises his eyebrows and gives both of them a surprised look. At her desk, Toshiko avoids looking at any of them by switching off the CCTV feeds. She goes back to her work with the waveform generator.

"What?" Owen says, and looks between Jack and Suzie. "What? Fine! I'm a twat."


The Trouble With Lisa
The corridors mute the gunshot as much as they carry it.

When they round the corner, Ianto is facing away from them, stock-still. There's an unfamiliar girl on the ground, the bullet hole in her skull a neat circle just below a jagged gash that goes all the way around her head. Another body lies crumpled in the shadows.

Tosh gasps and covers her mouth. Owen puts an arm around her shoulders but he doesn't holster his gun. Gwen looks uncertain. Only Jack steps forward.

Ianto doesn't move. His eyes are fixed on the body on the ground, and the blood pooling on concrete. "You didn't know her. "

"I'm sorry," Jack says. Whether he's referring to giving the order or Ianto's loss is anybody's guess.


Not The End of the World
Ianto's doing up his trousers when he hears the Hub's security system go off, alerting them to Jack, Gwen, and Beth's return. "Shit."

"I'll go first," Owen says, and tugs his t-shirt back on before he starts up the ladder to Jack's office. "I'm sure I can keep them busy while you and Tosh get dressed."

Tosh blushes. She's not wearing much more than a sheet at the moment.

Ianto reaches picks up her skirt from the floor. It's a little bit rumpled but he's confident no one will notice once she's wearing it again. "Are you alright?"

"Fine. You?" She takes the skirt and shimmies into it, still under the sheet like she's at camp. Like the three of them hadn't just…

"I think I'm still trying to decide whether I'm more relieved or embarrassed to be alive," he admits. "Owen's going to be insufferable."

She wiggles into her brassiere and then lets the sheet fall away as she shakes it out in an effort to find her blouse. "You're not worried about Jack?"

"No. I mean, it's not the end of the world, really." He pauses and furrows his brow as if considering something serious, then smiles and picks up his jacket and tie from their spot at the head of Jack's bunk. "Well, not anymore at any rate. I'll see you upstairs."


Live Man Walking
Jack gasps and claws his way back out of the dark. On the ground, not ten paces away, Dr. Copley's body lies sprawled on the tarmac. Gwen's on her mobile, presumably with UNIT or the police, he can't tell which. Owen and Martha are out of sight but he can hear them, chatting quietly on the other side of the SUV.

Ianto is here, though, crouched next to him on the tarmac. "Welcome back."

"What happened?" Jack swallows and pulls a face as he sits up. He can still taste blood in his mouth.

"Copley took a shot at Owen, but Owen lunged. The bullet grazed Owen's arm but caught you in the throat. Martha's getting him sorted out now. Gwen and I took Copley down while you were…" Ianto makes a gesture at the bloody mess of Jack's shirt. "Incapacitated."

Jack doesn't spring to his feet right away. He leans against the SUV and rests until Gwen peeks around the bumper and waves for him to join her.

He gives her a nod, spares Copley's body one last look, and then gets back to work.


Day's End
It a funny thing, dying.

Ianto barely feels Jack's lips, if he's honest. That's more mercy than it sounds, though, considering the virus that's just finishing up with him feels like flu a hundred times over. Everything hurts. Breathing burns. His internal organs are almost certainly in no fit state to do much except put their work down and back away.

The fade of his vision switching off? That lightness that goes with the body forgetting to report that it's still subject to gravity? The brain's response to oxygen starvation? It's nothing at all like going to sleep. Nothing goes dark. It just goes away. Something – some sense – lingers, though. Like Jack's lips seem to linger, for one long, long moment Ianto's sure isn't really long at all unless you're dead, or nearly so.

Whatever that sense is, it sticks around long enough for him to forget to be piss-scared anymore. It's like clear light, or that special sedation they do at the dentist's. He's too far away to worry what's going to happen to Jack now, or Gwen, or Rhi and the rest of the world. That all stopped ages back. He's done his bit.

He's done.