‘AARRHH!!!’ His mind was screaming impotently. ‘How dare they touch my Ianto!’ He slammed his fist into the wall, and although he heard the crack of bone, he paid no attention to the pain that shot up his arm. ‘If they touch a hair on his head I will kill them as slowly and painfully as I know how!’ Jack was beyond furious as he paced the length of the pub up and down over and over again. His normally smiling blue eyes had become a burning blue inferno and although he wanted a quick look at his boss’ broken hand, Owen clearly saw that Jack was on the edge and wisely kept his distance.
Gwen, on the other hand, snorted in derision as she watched Jack’s frustrated movements and as he heard her speak, Owen had serious doubts that she would live to see another day. "Jack, what are you talking about? Tosh is perfectly capable of looking after herself in the field; the problem is you saddled her with that stupid waste of space Tea-Boy. And as for him, it’s Ianto's own fault if he got caught which means that it’s entirely his fault that Tosh got captured.” High on her anti-Ianto soapbox, Gwen was too busy with her vitriolic diatribe to notice that Jack had frozen in mid-step and was slowly turning around to face her.
“Seriously, Jack, what were you thinking?” Gwen continued in the sarcastic, mocking tone she normally used when talking about Ianto. “This just proves Ianto has absolutely no place in the field or even in Torchwood. Is it going to take losing Toshiko to his incompetence before you realise that?" Gwen rolled her eyes in a weak imitation of Ianto and muttered under her breath, "This just proves how useless and dangerous to the rest of us the bloody Tea-Boy really is."
"What did you just say?"
The question was asked with such controlled calmness that Owen literally took a step back and eyed the distance between him and the bar. His mind raced as he wondered if there would be enough time for him to dive behind it before Jack unleashed his rage on Gwen or if he would stand a better chance of survival if he dropped to the floor and crawled toward the door.
Realisation finally dawned on Gwen Cooper when she saw the pure, cold fury burning in Jack's eyes as he glared at her and she too took a step back as she wondered if she had crossed a line with her caustic comments about Ianto. ‘Jack doesn’t expect me to lie to him about Ianto, does he?’
Jack's piecing gaze speared into Gwen, causing her to visibly flinch as if he’d physically struck her. Her eyes widened as she heard him growl in a low and dangerous tone, "I have had enough of your snide remarks about Ianto and they will end right now! You think you're so high and mighty when in truth you’re just a spoiled little brat who thinks she's special because she gets to play with the big kids.”
Owen saw Gwen open her mouth to protest; ‘God, Cooper, don’t make it worse!’ and he immediately switched his gaze to Jack’s gun hand, which fortunately, was not on the butt of his Webley. Yet.
Jack raised one eyebrow, as though daring Gwen to speak and when she snapped her mouth shut, he continued. “Well let me tell you something, Miss Gwen Cooper, you're not. You haven't even begun to face what the others have and you sure as hell haven't survived what Ianto has. The day you face down an army of Cybermen and Daleks hell-bent on taking over the world and destroying all of mankind is the day you can start speaking to Ianto or myself as an equal. So if you want to keep this job I suggest you shut up for once!"
It took every ounce of Owen's willpower not to whistle and cheer as he listened to Jack finally lay into Gwen about her nasty attitude. 'Too bad Tosh and Tea-Boy weren't here to see this; it was a thing of beauty.' Owen wished he had enough nerve to pull out his mobile and record the look on Gwen's face; it was simply priceless! She stared at Jack, her jaw hung open, her eyes wide in disbelief.
Jack continued to glare daggers at Gwen for several seconds longer as if again daring her to speak before he felt satisfied that for now she was going to keep her comments about Ianto to herself. "Now that that's settled we need to focus on finding Ianto and Tosh before it's too late."
Turning to Owen, Jack silently appealed to his medic for help; he’d never felt more helpless in his long life than he did at that moment. He’d grown so used to the bond between him and Ianto that without it, he felt like a piece of himself had died. It always reassured Jack when he heard Ianto's voice echoing in his head; somehow his mate always knew when he needed comforting and he always offered it to him without reservation. And even though he’d never admit it, it didn't hurt one little bit that Ianto would let his thoughts slip into Welsh – sometimes accidentally, if he were upset, and sometimes on purpose, knowing how his rounded vowels turned his lover on. On more than one occasion, Jack had had a hard time in not seeking out his Welshman and having his way with the young Welshman, showing him just what that did to him.
Now, however, Jack found the silence in his head and his heart quite disturbing and he knew that he would do anything, give anything to get his bond with Ianto back. ‘I don’t know if you’re able to hear me, Yan, even if I can’t hear you. Please be brave for me cos I love you and I’m coming for you, I promise.’
He desperately wanted Ianto back in his arms where the Welshman belonged and if he had to rip apart all of time and space to achieve that end, then he would, consequences be damned!
Watching the anger in Jack’s eyes turn to pain, Owen sighed deeply. "So what do you want to do?" He felt a little silly asking the question when he was already sure that Jack's plan consisted of inflicting bodily harm on everyone who crossed their path until he found Ianto.
A dark look appeared in Jack’s eyes. "I’m going to rip apart this bloody place and everyone and everything that stands between me and my mate.” His burning gaze speared both Owen and Gwen with a look that promised pain if they even thought of trying to stop him, although Owen knew his next words were directed specifically at Gwen and not him, “If either of you have a problem with that then you’re free to stay behind where you’ll be safe. I’ll come back for you once I have Ianto and Tosh back with me where they belong.”
“As if!” A highly amused snort escaped Owen’s lips. “There’s no way in hell I’m going to let you go out there and face whatever got Tosh and our Alien Tea-Boy captured. You know damn well that if I let anything happen to you Ianto would put me on decaf or worse...” and he shuddered dramatically, “... instant for the rest of my life.”
Despite the rage burning through his body Jack couldn’t stop the smile that graced his face. Owen wasn’t joking; they both knew that was precisely the sort of revenge his feisty mate would exact. “He’d do it, too.”
Owen fought the urge to roll his eyes but he was pleased to see that some of Jack’s rage and pain had faded from his eyes. Still, he knew that Jack’s calmer attitude wouldn’t last long, not with Ianto in danger. “Shall we get started?”
Jack looked at Owen with hard eyes and reminded him darkly, “You do know that I’ll do whatever it takes to find them.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything different.” Owen met Jack’s gaze without flinching.
A strangled sound came from Gwen’s direction and Jack and Owen both turned their curious gaze onto her. “Do you have something to say, Miss Cooper?” Jack questioned the former PC in a low and dangerous growl, one that any wise person would pay heed to and wisely keep their mouth shut and nod their head.
‘Come on, Gwen, it’s a no-brainer; just keep your bloody mouth shut for a change!’ Knowing that there were bound to be fireworks, possibly even gunfire, given Jack’s current mood, Owen casually walked over to the end of the bar, ostensibly to look under the counter. ‘I always figured she’s not that smart.’ Owen fought the urge to roll his eyes as Gwen’s eyes narrowed angrily and a very familiar look entered her eyes. Within seconds, his thoughts were confirmed when she stupidly opened her mouth to speak.
"I won't let you do this, Jack! Whatever is out there has rights and the way you're talking is crazy! You can't seriously be considering torturing people? It's wrong and it proves you have no idea what compassion is!” Gwen sneered at the immortal. Her disgust for the actions Jack was willing to take was painfully obvious. 'I need to move faster! Whatever spell Ianto has on Jack is removing his humanity, and it’s all up to me now. I have to save Jack before he's lost forever.'
A low vicious snarl escaped Jack's lips and before either Owen or Gwen could process what was happening Jack struck. In the blink of an eye, he had his hand around her throat in a tight grip, pinning Gwen to the wall and on her tiptoes. "I’m going to tell you this once and only once. Ianto does not have me under any kind of mind control. I’m with him because I love him!” He could feel his rage beginning to take control of him and he had to fight the intense desire to simply throttle Gwen on the spot. ‘I can always blame it on whatever has Tosh and Ianto!’ he reasoned with himself.
Breathing heavily, Jack struggled with his conscience for a moment before he visible calmed himself and continued speaking. “I don’t want you, Gwen! I never have and I never will! I will not stand back any longer and watch you hurt the man I love.” Jack had reached the end of his patience with Gwen’s attitude towards Ianto. His mate was missing and instead of being out there looking for him he was stuck dealing with a jealous little girl. ‘If this delay hurts him in any way, you’re not going to know what hit you, Gwen Cooper!’
Walking over to stand beside the angry immortal, Owen winced when he saw the vivid bruises forming on Gwen’s neck. “Jack, you know that I would dearly love to watch you set Gwen straight but right now is not the time. Ianto and Tosh are out there somewhere and they should be our focus right now.” The medic spoke to Jack calmly and quietly as if he were facing down a wounded animal searching for his injured mate. ‘Huh, that’s actually not too far from the truth.’ He carefully considered his next words for a second and then decided that a touch of humour couldn’t hurt. “Besides, I think Tosh and Ianto deserve to be here to see that, don’t you?”
His brave albeit foolhardy choice of words paid off as Gwen was suddenly tossed into his arms and Owen nearly fumbled her to the floor. ‘Fuck! Gwen needs to lay off the pizza and doughnuts!’ he grunted as her full weight almost knocked them both over.
“She’s your responsibility now; keep her out of my way,” Jack growled ferociously as he stalked past Owen and out of the pub; his body was tense, his senses heightened and he was ready for the hunt.
“Hey, why am I stuck baby-sitting?” Owen shouted at Jack’s rapidly retreating back; he shook his head as he was ignored and quickly released Gwen. “You just couldn’t keep your opinions to yourself for once, could you, Cooper? Jack was already on edge trying to deal with Ianto being kidnapped and you just had to push him over that edge, didn’t you? I think it’s time you got your head out of the fucking clouds and back in the game and realise that this isn’t the Gwen Cooper show!” He held up his hand as Gwen tried to interrupt.
“Shut up, I’m not done yet! We’re a team and currently two of our members are in alien hands and you’re so blind you’re letting your jealousy rule you. Let me make it perfectly clear to you, Gwen. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with you besides friendship and I have to tell you, even that’s waning. That man loves Ianto and nothing, nothing you say or do is going to change that.”
“I’m just trying to make jack see reason, Owen. He’s ready to sacrifice dozens of innocent people or… or… or whatever they are, just to get back two people. I know Tosh is important; we need her to run the computers and stuff, but come on! Starbucks is there for a reason which means we don’t really need Ianto, right?” Gwen batted her eyelashes at Owen, trying to us her own brand of twisted logic to wheedle her way back into his good graces.
Unable to believe his ears, Owen felt his own blood begin to boil and he suddenly understood why jack had snapped the way he had. Gritting his teeth, the wiry Londoner fought to keep his temper under control, although his fingers were itching to wrap themselves around Gwen’s throat just as Jack’s had. Sucking in a deep breath, he said, “Your callous treatment of Ianto is getting on our last nerve. Jack isn’t the only one who’s reached his limit; Tosh and I are so sick and tired of listening to you! God, you sound like a broken record!”
Gwen gaped at Owen in pure disbelief; how could he say such things, and then it dawned on her.
‘Oh. My. God.’ She took a step back and looked at him through narrowed eyes. ‘Ianto’s put a spell on Owen too!’
Owen was too busy checking his weapon to notice Gwen’s abrupt change in attitude. “So either you accept that Jack is with Ianto and that he’ll never be yours and come help us locate our missing friends or you stay here out of the way. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, but if I were you, I’d seriously reconsider if Torchwood is really right for you.” Holstering his handgun and slipping the strap of his medpack over his shoulder, he headed for the door and then he paused at the threshold.
“We don’t have room in our lives for selfish people like you.” Owen spat out his final words before disappearing after Jack.
Gwen could only stare slack-jawed at the closed door before anger washed over her. ‘How dare Owen talk to me like that? And what’s with all the love for Ianto suddenly? He’s got to be under Ianto’s alien influence. He's the one who calls Ianto Tea-Boy every chance he can get. But it’s okay, I know it was just fear that was talking and once we've rescued Tosh and Ianto, Owen will apologize.' She preened for a moment as she thought about making him beg for her forgiveness.
A sudden idea struck Gwen and a crafty smile twisted her lips. ‘Maybe I'll be the one to find out who’s taken Tosh and Ianto and where they are and then Jack will be so impressed with me that he'll finally see that I’m the only choice of partner for him. I’m the only one worthy of standing next to him because I’m the one that truly loves him, not that bloody Tea-Boy! He'll see that Ianto is a danger not only to himself but to the rest of us as well. There is no doubt in my mind that it's his fault he and Tosh were captured and if anything happens to her, that’ll be his fault too.' Proud of herself for coming up with such a brilliant plan Gwen resolutely left the pub and headed out after Owen and Jack.
Rhys was sure he must have broken every speeding law in all of Christendom as he and Caden drove across the Welsh countryside. With a spray of dirt and grass, the car fishtailed to a violent stop as they pulled up to the recently abandoned camp. Fear gripped Rhys and Caden with an iron fist as they studied the destroyed Torchwood Three encampment.
Caden wasted no time as he undid his seatbelt, flung open his door and headed off in a dead run before Rhys had even put the car into park. "Tosh! Ianto! Anyone can you hear me?"
"Caden! Slow down, mate! I'm as worried as you are but we can't just go rushing off half-cocked without a plan!" Rhys snarled as he caught up to his fellow knight. He grabbed Caden’s arm and dragged him to a stop.
Caden looked at Rhys with wild eyes. "How can you be so calm? My Toshiko and our prince could be in danger! So could the rest of the team; aren't you even the slightest bit worried about them? I know you've gotten close to Owen and what about Gwen? You two may be over but I’m sure a part of you still cares for her.” Caden couldn’t understand how his leader was staying so in control, not when their own people were had clearly been attacked.
Rhys snorted, his gaze drawn to the destroyed camp. “Trust me, my friend, I am anything but calm, not when people I care about are in danger.” The thought of something happening to Owen filled his stomach with lead. “But at the same time I know that we can’t let our emotions rule us, not when the stakes are so high. That will only lead to mistakes and mistakes are something can’t afford to make, especially not with our prince involved. There has to be a town or a village or something nearby; we’ll follow the road and see where it leads us.”
Torn between following Rhys’ common sense approach and setting off on his own to search for Toshiko, Caden ran his hand through his hair, making it stand straight up on end. “I… Tosh…”
“I know,” Rhys placed a comforting hand on Caden’s shoulder. “They’re well-trained agents and we both know that Jack will never let anything happen to Ianto, Tosh, Owen or Gwen, not if he could help it.”
Caden took a deep breath he knew that Rhys was right but at the same time he couldn’t calm down not when Tosh was out there somewhere. ‘Hang on Tosh I’m coming to find you.’ Caden vowed as he followed Rhys back to his car, he just hoped they weren’t going to be too late.
Caden took a deep breath and tried to force the tension from his body; logically he knew that Rhys was right but at the same time he couldn’t calm down completely, not when Tosh was out there somewhere. ‘Hang on, Tosh; I’m coming to find you,’ Caden vowed as he reluctantly followed Rhys back to his car. With every step he offered up the same prayer to Custodia; their Goddess of protection. ‘Please don’t let me be too late.’
With a sudden jolt, Ianto came to and tried to sit up, immediately wishing he hadn't; his head was pounding violently and he knew that the blow to his head had caused more damage than he originally thought. Then he realised that his mental shields were severely weakened and on the edge of collapsing completely. Every vile thought trickled in unchecked and he felt the bile in his stomach building to a dangerous level as one single, overwhelming thought was at the forefront of those holding them.
Despite the pain that flared within his body and head at the slightest movement Ianto forced himself to remain on his feet and start moving towards Tosh’s still form. It wasn’t until he saw the slight motion of her chest moving up and down with each breath that Ianto was reassured; Tosh was still among the living and he had to blink back a sudden rush of grateful tears.
Stumbling his way over Ianto all but collapsed next to Tosh; swallowing against the urge to vomit, he slowly and carefully reached out to brush his mind against Tosh’s. What he saw there sent his brain recoiling in horror as the minds of those holding him and Tosh came flooding over him like a tidal wave. Terrifying images crashed into his open mind and try as he might Ianto simply could not get his shields back up and oh how he wanted to; he desperately needed to shut them out before they took him over completely.
Ianto shuddered violently as a score of evil minds laid themselves bare before him. In the back of his mind, Ianto knew that like all other races in the universe, there was a darker side to humanity, a side that was inhuman and that occasionally left a black mark on the race that could never be erased. With a sinking heart he realised that this was one of the times.
Their thoughts were rapidly becoming a raging river that was swiftly pulling him under and Ianto found no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t break free of the current. Without Jack and their bond to bolster his shields, he just wasn’t strong enough.
‘Ianto, it’s okay, we’re safe.’ Gentle hands and soothing thoughts finally penetrated the waves of fear, loss and pain that were enveloping Ianto. Like a drowning man desperately grabbing for a lifesaver, he clung to the words letting them pull back him from the myriad dark and horrifying places the minds were dragging him into. Ianto blinked to clear his vision and found himself staring into Tosh’s worried eyes.
“Are you alright, Ianto?” Tosh asked softly as she gently rubbed his ice-cold hands; she could see the pain in Ianto’s eyes.
“…ah…” Ianto swallowed thickly, he wanted so much to ease her fears but he didn’t know if he could; they were in very dire straits. He didn’t want to worry Tosh about his shields being nearly depleted; they had much more important – more dangerous – things to worry about. Being so close to Toshiko, her worry was palpable and while he wanted to reassure his friend he knew that he couldn’t sugar-coat the truth; she deserved better than that. "We're dealing with cannibals, Tosh, and they plan on making us their next meal."
Tosh felt physically ill as Ianto said that and she swallowed convulsively against the need to throw up. Scrambling to her feet she immediately began putting together a plan of action. “We need to get out of here.” Tosh instinctively reached for her comm and wasn’t surprised to find it was gone along with all of her guns and no doubt Ianto’s PDA as well.
Gingerly, hoping it would be as painful as before, Ianto shook his head. “We can’t; we’re being guarded. I can hear them just outside, they’re making plans on how to approach us.” He cocked his head for a moment, concentrating, trying to make sense out of the excited voices, each offering their own suggestions and then he nodded as a consensus was reached. “They’re going to send someone in to try and get us to trust them.”
Tosh scowled darkly at the closed door as if hoping to burn it with her gaze. “Then I guess we’ll just have to play along and hope that Jack is coming up with a plan.”
Ianto jolted at the mention of Jack. He could barely sense the tenuous bond between Jack and himself; the ravenous thoughts of the cannibals were drowning everyone and everything else out. Ianto closed his eyes concentrating on the thin thread linking him to his mate, trying to block out all the distractions and focusing solely on the calmness that was Jack. ‘Jack, can you hear me?’ Ianto called out hoping that wherever he was, Jack could hear him.
Realising that his beloved Welshman was further away than Jack would have liked, the immortal came to a halt. ‘Ianto?’
His heart leapt with joy; his mate was still alive!
Ianto wanted to sob with relief as he heard Jack answer him back; for a brief moment his mate’s surge of love and happiness drowned out all the others. ‘Jack, oh Cariad! You have no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.’
‘I understand better than you think, Yan, I was so worried when I heard your cry. Are you and Tosh okay?’ Jack ignored Owen and Gwen who were buzzing around him like irritating flies, asking – or in Owen’s case demanding – to know why the bloody hell he stopped. Owen was particularly annoyed; he’d been looking at his PDA and hadn’t seen Jack stop walking. As a result, he slammed right into Jack’s large and rather hard back; it wasn’t so much the impact that had upset him but the fact that Jack didn’t take advantage of the situation to make a few lewd comments about it.
As he debated his next words, Ianto swallowed hard; he knew what he was about to tell Jack would break what little control his mate had left. ‘We’re all right,’ he murmured reassuringly and technically, Ianto wasn’t lying. He and Tosh remained unharmed for the moment and it wouldn’t do Jack any good to worry about Ianto’s failing shields. ‘It’s not aliens, Jack, it’s humans. They’re cannibals.’
Jack froze and a dangerous growl escaped his lips; one that raised the hair on the back of Owen’s neck and had him taking a step back. ‘Cannibals?’ Even through their weak link Ianto could hear the disbelief and horror in Jack’s voice. ‘They want to eat you? The only one who is allowed to eating any part of you is me, damn it! We’re coming, Ianto, and if I have to I will anybody who gets in my way! I will come for you, I swear it, Ianto. I will come for you,’ Jack vowed.
Despite the circumstances, Ianto found himself smiling. ‘I know you will, Cariad. I’m expecting a gallant rescue by my very own knight in shining armour, one in which you will sweep me off my feet.’ Ianto found himself teasing Jack; it felt good to act normally even for a brief moment.
Jack clung to the sound of Ianto’s voice. ‘And you’ll have just such a rescue, I promise. It won’t be on a white horse but I will find something.’
‘I know you will, Cariad,’ Ianto whispered back. The brief reprieve he had gotten from hearing the others was failing and it was getting harder for Ianto to keep up the link with Jack and block out the rest of the thoughts trickling through.
‘Ianto, are you alright?’ Jack could feel something was wrong with Ianto. ‘How are your shields holding up?’
Ianto couldn’t lie to Jack. ‘Their hanging in there, Jack, but these monster’s minds are so disgusting I can’t fully keep them out. I’m scared, Jack,’ Ianto admitted in a small voice.
Hearing the fear in Ianto’s voice severely wrenched Jack’s heart and at that moment he wanted nothing more than to hunt down those who harmed his Ianto and wipe them from the face of the Earth. ‘Listen to me, Ianto. You need to close down our link and focus all your strength on shutting them out.’ As much as it pained him to lose their fragile link, Jack needed Ianto focus on keeping himself safe. ‘Please stay safe for me, Yan, I’m on my way.’
Ianto hated to lose his only connection to Jack; it was the only thing that kept him afloat in a sea of lust, hunger and hatred, but Jack was right. He wasn’t strong enough to maintain both his link with Jack and his shields against the cannibals; he needed to focus on building up his shields as best he could. ‘I love you, Jack,’ the young Welshman whispered to his mate.
Emotions clogged Jack’s throat. ‘I love you too and when this mission is over you and I are going away for a little while; we’ve more than earned it.’
‘I’m holding you to that. I’ll see you soon, Cariad.’ With all the strength and self-control he could muster Ianto closed his link with Jack; it was the single hardest thing he had ever done.
The moment Ianto closed their link Jack felt empty, absolutely bereft of all love and comfort. A roar of primitive rage tore itself from his lips and echoed through the surrounding area as he whirled around on his heel and punched the nearby tree. Once again, there was the crunch of shattering bone and once again, Jack paid no attention to his broken hand.
Stalking over to his boss, Owen didn’t bother with a bedside manner as he grabbed hold of Jack’s hand and examined the damage the emotional outburst had caused. He split his attention between feeling the bone, sinew and flesh shift as it healed beneath his fingers and studying Jack’s stormy countenance, unsure of how he should bring up the rather touchy situation. 'Aww to hell with it, Tosh and Ianto are out there in the hands or claws of whoever or whatever is behind all of this. This is no time to dance around the issue.'
Satisfied that once again, Jack’s miraculous ability to mend itself had returned his broken hand to his factory pre-set perfection, Owen let Jack’s hand drop back to his side. Crossing his arms over his chest, the medic raised an inquiring eyebrow; "Care to tell us what that little display was about? Because I don’t think Tea-Boy would take too kindly to you breaking your hands.”
As if noticing his hand for the first time, Jack looked at it closely, opening and closing it and wiggling his fingers around. “I was talking to Ianto; he and Tosh are being held by cannibals. We’re not dealing with aliens, for God’s sake; we’re dealing with human beings, sick fucking psychos who plan on eating my mate!” Jack snarled viciously.
While Gwen’s eyes opened in pure shock as she heard Jack swear – he rarely ever used profanity, calling it a refuge for a weak vocabulary – a string of colourful curses escaped Owen’s lips. Blood-thirsty aliens he could deal with, they were de rigour for Torchwood, but flesh-eating humans? That was something he wasn’t sure he could handle and his mind reeled. Where did you even begin? They were human, they couldn’t simply be shot on sight, but on the other hand, he’d as soon shoot a cannibal as become a tasty snack for one.
Finally he found three little words that summed up the entire situation as far as he was concerned. “That’s just wrong,” and he shook his head sadly. “Did Ianto give you any idea as to where they’re being held?”
Jack shook his head with dismay. “His shields are failing, Owen. I’m not sure how much longer he can hold out before they’re gone completely.”
Owen let loose another set of vehement curses; this was not good, not good at all. He had first-hand experience with the devastating effects that telepathic trauma could have on someone and it filled him with dread to think of what could happen to someone as powerful as Ianto. ‘It could leave him brain dead or worse!’ and the medic gave an involuntary shudder as an image of Ianto, bereft of everything that made him Ianto Jones gone, crossed his mind. With a resolute set to his jaw, Owen said,
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go find them.”
Just as Owen finished speaking a pair of headlights suddenly came up out of the darkness and washed over them, causing slightly malformed shadows to form behind them. Fearing the worst, Jack and his small team immediately drew their weapons, prepared to do battle, although Jack took a stance that put him slight ahead of and in front of the others. The look on Jack’s face had Owen wondering if whoever was holding Ianto would be making it out alive after Jack got through with them.
As Torchwood raised their weapons and prepared to fire on their new foe, a red SUV came to a screeching halt a few feet in front of them and the passenger door flew open before the SUV had come to a full stop.
“Where’s Tosh?” were the first words out of Caden’s mouth as he dashed up to Jack. “We saw your campsite, now where is she?”
Snarling Owen flicked the safety on his gun back on although he did not holster the handgun. “God damn it, Caden, you must have a death wish! What the hell were you thinking jumping out like that; we could have shot you!” Owen ranted at the knight as he tried to calm his pounding heart.
Caden paid no attention to Owen’s raving protests; his eyes raked over every inch of the area and his heart sank in his chest when he couldn’t find Tosh or Ianto among the small group. “Where is my Toshiko and our Prince?” Caden snarled at Jack, his fear making him act out. Without warning, he reached out and seized Jack by the lapels of his greatcoat. His anger increased his strength and he easily lifted Jack to his tiptoes and then shook him like a ragdoll. “You were supposed to keep them safe!”
Feeling an unconscious need for protection, Owen took a step closer to Rhys as fury clouded over Jack’s face and sent lightning flashing from his eyes; Jack was already teetering on a razor’s edge and Caden had definitely touched a raw nerve.
“I know I failed, all right! I don’t need you to rub it in my face!” The pain in Jack’s voice made Rhys wince; he couldn’t imagine how he’d feel if the situation were reversed and Owen was the one missing.
“My Ianto has been taken by cannibals and I have no clue where they are…” he readjusted his coat as Caden let him go, “...but I swear I will rip apart this entire village if I have to I in order to get them back.” Jack stared down at Caden. “Are you going to stand there and cast blame on me or are you going to help me find them?”
A dangerous look appeared on Caden’s face. “Damn right I’m going to help find them; those monsters have my Toshiko and when I’m through there will be nothing left of this village.”
Sneaking a quick hand squeeze with his mate, Owen pulled him down so he could whisper in Rhys’ ear, “When this is over I want you to burn this place to a crisp.” Rhys nodded and returned Owen’s hand squeeze as they watched Jack and Caden.
A wicked grin appeared on Rhys face as he looked down at the man he was falling for. “It will be my pleasure and if some of these monsters get caught in the crossfire then that will make it all the sweeter.”
Tired of being ignored by every man present in favour of Tosh and the Tea-Boy, Gwen decided to it was time for her to show Jack that he could depend on her in a time of crisis, that she held a place in Torchwood, not Ianto. Glancing around, she noticed that there was a light shining through the windows of a nearby house and that made up her mind for her. She would take the lead in the investigation and she would mount Tosh’s rescue herself.
Glancing around, Gwen could see that the light was still shining brightly and so, after making sure she had her gun at the ready, she started moving cautiously towards the house. ‘That’s as good a place as any to start.’
“Cooper, what the hell are you doing?” Owen demanded as he spotted Gwen nearing the house; if anyone looked out a window she’d be clearly visible.“Of all the stupid, brainless things to do this is without a doubt the stupidest,” Owen muttered under his breath as he began stalking towards Gwen. He immediately heard a muffled curse fall from Jack’s lips and it was clear that the immortal had spotted the same thing Owen had. As the medic started forward, he heard three sets of heavy footsteps fall in behind him and the sound told him that Jack, Rhys and Caden were hoping to stop Gwen from doing something stupid, or worse, doing something that might get Tosh and Ianto hurt or killed.
Gwen turned her head to glare at Owen. “I’m going to do what neither of you seem to be capable of doing; I’m going to start investigating.” With that said and a defiant glare on her face Gwen stepped boldly up to the door and turned the doorknob.
Pain exploded in Gwen's side the instant she flung the door open and as she went down she could feel her ears ringing from the sound of the gunshot. She blinked dazedly as Owen and Rhys moved into view followed by Jack’s worried and angry face. Despite the pain filling her body Gwen couldn’t help but feel absolutely giddy with pure joy at the look on Jack’s face. ‘Jack does care about me!’ Yes, it was true; Gwen was convinced that Jack’s intense fear for her safety was helping him break through whatever hold Ianto had placed on her captain.
Gwen was right in part; Jack did care about her as a member of his team and he was upset that she’d been injured, but at the same time he felt rage filling him. ‘Why couldn’t she just listen for once? Now we’ll have to waste time while Owen patches her up before we can begin looking for Ianto and Tosh.’ It was actions like these that were making Jack reconsider Gwen’s place in Torchwood.
Still, under the circumstances, that didn’t matter right now as he glanced over at Caden. “Cover me,” he hissed. “Whoever shot Gwen might know something about Ianto and Tosh and I plan on getting answers one way or another.” It had been a long time since Jack had needed to torture someone but the ‘talent’ never went away and when it came to Ianto’s safety he would do whatever it took to recover his mate, even turning back into someone he didn’t like.
The smile that graced Caden’s face was not a nice one, in fact, it was downright sinister. “It will be my pleasure.”
Jack’s gaze flickered to Rhys and he knew that this might just be a very bad idea but he didn’t have any other choice. “Rhys, I’m trusting you to watch Owen’s back. We’ll give you the signal once it’s all clear.”
Rhys and Owen almost, almost pitied whoever was on the other side of the door; it was obvious that Jack and Caden weren’t going to take it easy on them. ‘Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people,’ Owen thought with a snort.
It wasn’t long after his silent talk with Jack someone did enter the cellar; armed with a lethal-looking shotgun, a woman named Helen who claimed to be a nurse said that she’d been sent to check on them. Ianto of course knew better and sent Tosh a message, ‘Play along.’ He knew that this was probably their one and only chance to escape captivity.
Prodded along by the shotgun at their backs, Tosh and Ianto arrived in the building’s kitchen area and gagged at the stench in the air. Still unaware of Helen’s true identity and in an effort to learn more about their situation, Tosh hesitantly asked what their captors looked like. “Do they look like us?”
“Who else are we going to look like?” a sneering voice came through the plastic sheeting that hung around the room, followed seconds later by a large man who grinned at them sadistically. The stranger crossed over to their shotgun-carrying guide and pulled her into his arms, forcing Tosh and Ianto to listen with sickening horror as Evan and Helen kissed and began explaining that they were meat. For Ianto, it was one thing to hear and see the memories in his mind, but to see in person the pure glee that spread across their faces as they gloated over the upcoming harvest.
A plan flashed into Ianto’s mind; he knew what he was about to do was insane and certainly very dangerous but he needed to keep Tosh safe. ‘Tosh, get ready to run.’
Tosh fought against her body’s instinctive urge to jump as she felt Ianto’s mind brush against hers. ‘Ianto, what are you up to?’ Tosh knew that her dear Ianto was one of the most self-sacrificing people she had ever met and experience had already shown that he would put her safety above his.
With a smile Ianto head butted Evan right in the face as the man came over to inspect his newest piece of meat and Tosh took that as the sign Ianto had told her to expect. She elbowed the man holding her sharply in the stomach, thus freeing herself and then made a break for the door. Luckily, Helen hadn’t secured it behind her when they’d arrived and Tosh was able to get out quickly and easily.
“Go after her!” Evan angrily roared his orders to the others as Helen pressed a stained tea towel to his broken nose in an attempt to stop the gush of blood. Ianto watched in horror as two men took off after Tosh, and all Ianto could do was pray fervently that he’d given Tosh enough time to get away.
Tosh hated to have to abandon Ianto but she knew there was nothing she could do given her current lack of weaponry or back-up. She needed to find Jack and Owen as soon as possible; they were her only hope of rescuing Ianto. As she ran as fast as she could through the underbrush, Tosh knew that more than anything else, she really wanted for Caden to be there and for him to wrap her up in his strong arms. ‘I’ll be back, Ianto, I promise with Jack and the others.’
Unfortunately, Ianto didn’t hear Tosh’s promise because at that moment, Evan Sherman was taking great pleasure in slamming the butt of his shotgun into his bound prisoner’s head. Even as blinding pain exploded through his brain, Ianto’s survival training kicked in and with the last of his strength, he sent out a powerful telepathic wave. Although it obliterated the last of his shields he succeeded in destroying the minds of everyone present in blood and gore-stained room.
Ianto collapsed lifelessly to the floor and his head bounced painfully off the filthy boards. He never even noticed that he was surrounded by the bodies of the now brain-dead cannibals; his mind was quickly shutting itself down in a last-ditch attempt to save him from the traumatic backlash of his desperate action. As his eyes closed and his consciousness faded to black, Ianto’s last thought was for his beloved mate.
‘Jack, I’m sorry...’