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And I Wake Up

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And I Wake Up

 

Chapter 1—Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

 

Ianto Jones died in Jack Harkness’ arms in front of the 456, his body shutting down as the air he so desperately gasped turned stale in his lungs, as whatever chemical in the air did it’s job.

Neither Ianto nor Jack could understand fully what the gas’s job was, though they guessed, and guessed right for the most part. The rest came as a bit of a surprise.

With Jack Harkness, it tried doing it’s job, thought it succeeded, but ultimately, one Jack Harkness would wake up a while later, the chemical absent from his body, and so its job was left unfinished. Jack would understand this the same way he understood that that bullet that had went through his heart a while ago had its job left unfinished. But he would be wrong.

With everyone else in the building, it did its job fully.

Not until well after the 456 were sent packing, would anyone know what, exactly it’s job was.

And the 456 wouldn’t know what, exactly, its gasses had done to one Ianto Jones.

The Gas would know—wouldn’t know how it happened, but it would know—but though there are several species of sentient gasses in the universe, this particular gas wasn’t one of them, and took its surprise with it into the void of dissipation.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Born August 19, 1983, in Cardiff, Ianto Jones grows up, has strained relationship with his family, and lives with normal neighbors—such as the Macmillans from two streets over—as well as one neighbor he didn’t know he had. The Rift. He leaves all this—the relationship problems, the known and unknown neighbors—after his Tad dies, and heads for London.

Ianto Jones had worked with Torchwood One for a number of years, has come into contact with a number of things both in and out of the archives, and is the only employee who knows 12 dialects of alien origin. This is partly due to being good with linguistics, partly due to his organized mind, and partly due to something else entirely.

He was there in 2007 when the barriers between realities were breaking down, he was there when bits of energy were breaking off, when the ghosts of the energy that made up the Cybermen broke though before their physical forms, and was only 50 feet away from the portal that would suck all that didn’t belong in this reality back through it though he wouldn’t hear about what that big whoosh of energy was until well after he’s secreted his half-converted Cyber-Girlfriend away from prying, damning eyes.

Soon after that, half-converted Cyber-Girlfriend Lisa Hallett in tow, Ianto Jones tries to get a job with Torchwood Three, back in Cardiff, back to his now mostly unknown neighbor, hoping to keep his girlfriend alive long enough to return her to normal.

He succeeds. In getting a job at Torchwood Three that is. He also helps bring in Myfanwy, a pteranodon he’d found soon after she made her way through the Rift.

So soon after she’d come through the Rift, Ianto doesn’t notice the faint smell of an old humidity, doesn’t notice the faint feel of tropical air, doesn’t even hear the faint sound of a thousand prehistoric life forms before they fade away, because his pulse is hammering loud in his head, and all he could think in that moment was “Oh my God, it’s a dinosaur.”

(He doesn’t think about the moment when his mind immediately went to drawn up childhood plans for catching a dinosaur for a pet, even when asked how exactly he managed to get Myfanwy from hunting sheep on the countryside to trapped in a warehouse. He also doesn’t say why he brought a bar of extra dark chocolate with him.)

He operates a fake Tourist Stand between acting as a glorified Tea-Boy and working to organize the mess that is the Archives (and secretly working on fixing his Cyber-Girlfriend, don’t forget), and decorates his new flat with things he thinks that Lisa might like for After.

He vaguely notices that Suzie is acting a bit odd, in that occasionally, when she doesn’t notice he’s there (which is often, he’s made sure no one really notices him), she’ll stare at one particular part of the Hub, some weapon storage units, and smile this strange, manic smile, but he doesn’t connect that to his own unnoticed staring towards Lisa’s room in the basement, a worried frown on his face.

Nobody else notices, either.

That’s just as well, really.

Except it isn’t.

Suzie is dead, and Ianto is the one to clean up topside.

There’s more blood than there should be. Ianto notices things like that.

He also keeps it to himself, though he keeps an eye on the shared glances Jack and the new girl exchange. Some of them aren’t charged with sexual tension, and with her being so new, this is strange when taking Jack into consideration. He thinks, and notices that someone, likely Jack, has tampered with the CCTV tapes, and thinks some more when he has the time. He’s good at keeping things to himself. Jack apparently is too.

Gwen less so.

Gwen Cooper provides a change, but people still don’t notice Ianto as much as they perhaps should, and when everything comes out (they think) about Suzie, Ianto frowns and stares, and thinks that perhaps if she’d talked to someone before this, things wouldn’t have gotten so bad.

For a while, he distracts himself in the Archives, and notices that more Retcon had been used in the last three years than could be accounted for, and wonders at the inability of the rest of the team to sign their names on a form when they need to alter a civilian’s account of certain situations.

It’s just as well that soon after that he’s helping look for a girl possessed by a deranged sex mist, and too busy to reflect on that thought, and certainly too busy to connect that thought with Lisa.

Ianto goes back to being invisible soon after that, and if he wasn’t thinking about talking to someone before things go badly with Lisa before, he certainly doesn’t think about it any further when he sees that people honestly don’t notice him. Even Gwen has stopped looking after him when he brings her coffee. He’s invisible.

Just as he likes.

But then he’s on four weeks leave, and Lisa, Lisa

Three and a half weeks left, and Ianto buys a membership at a gym, and starts running, because his apartment is full of furniture meant for Lisa. Lisa. Lisa.

One Week left, and Ianto is disgustingly healthy in a way that he and, and, had laughed about before, (Before) and he’s low on food at the apartment, so he goes shopping, and somehow makes his way to a fabric shop, and finds a big, horribly comfortable, lumpy, old couch in the front window of a used furniture store, and goes in.

He leaves after calling a moving company, and waits at the door of his apartment so they can remove the newer furniture from it to make room for the replacement old furniture, and somehow the dark, sturdy furniture works in a way that doesn’t hurt him so horribly. The sheets are boring and the same shade of crème as the walls, but Ianto can ignore that.

Jack comes by just as the movers are leaving with the plush, kind of uncomfortable modern sofa that Lisa would have loved, and frowns.

“Moving?”

He blinks at Jack a moment, confused, before shaking his head.

“No… Just moving furniture.” Just trying to move on, he thinks. Jack nods as if he understands, and Ianto wonders a moment if Jack actually sees,

He’s back at Torchwood, back to eating take-out, but he’s still running, before and after work, and thinks that he might even be half as fit as he was when he was a teenager.

Even if it did mean he had to have a few of his suits retailored.

When Faeries are the next bizarre creatures he encounters, he wonders.

He wonders at many things, from Jack’s long looks at Estelle (and how does he tell Jack he’d gone to one of her presentations before? Even before Torchwood One? He doesn’t.), to Gwen’s considering looks when she sees the two together.

There had been a lot of blood, way back when.

Ianto continues to think.

He wonders at many things after, too, from Jack’s decision to give up one little girl for the sake of the world (could anyone have been able to make that decision? Ianto wonders at what his own choice would be, and thinks that the angry silence from the rest of the team is an admittance that they know it’s the correct choice, if not the right one, and certainly not one they like), and wonders at his own silence.

He’s experienced first hand that keeping his silence in situations like these come to worse conclusions than he could imagine, but Jack seems to have had such a time with the Faeries, Ianto didn’t want to bring it up.

Of course, Gwen mentioned her story.

She complains as she cleans up the spiral of flora in her living room, and when the rocks at the center are placed in a bag to be sorted, Ianto takes them back home, and places them on the small table next to his windowsill, seated next to the tied handkerchief. Back where it belongs.

It was something his Mum had told him about when his Nan died; explaining it softly to him as she carefully knotted a lace-edged handkerchief and set it on the mantle of the fireplace.

“It’s a way of remembering, Ianto, and a charm of protection. My Mam kept two for her own parents, and eventually this will go with the one I have for my Tad.”

Ianto hadn’t ever asked what it protected against, or how, because it seemed mostly like on of those bad-luck protections to him at the time. His Mum always did things like that. He heard from Rhi that Tad had said that she’d rubbed both of them down with a rabbit’s foot, “for luck”.

With Canary Warf, and Lisa, Ianto hadn’t felt terribly lucky, but he’d survived both.

So perhaps the irony is that a dead rabbit’s foot is lucky only in terms of survival.

But the rocks, they were something that Ianto had found on his own, little things stuck in a gutter down an alleyway, that a much younger Ianto found fascinating with their little cracks and natural pattern. They had, once upon a time, kept his attention for long enough that he forgot he was hiding from his Tad, but then when he finally was found, it was by his Mum.

THAT was luck.

But he’d wondered what they’d taken them for.

The Faeries, he means.

 Ianto woke up that night to a fluttering noise and a strange wind. Stun Gun in hand, he crept to his living room to see the closest thing to his childhood memory of what an alien looks like crouched by his window.

Three were three of them.

He cleared his throat, feeling awkward facing whatever the things were (were those wings? What…?) in boxers and a t-shirt. One of the things turned to look at him briefly, flat faced and what looked like moss growing between its piranha teeth, before looking back and murmuring something to the one next to it.

“Uh… who are you?” What are you? He adds in his mind, but it didn’t seem polite. The he curses himself, because what if they were telepathic or something? Jack had mentioned species like that before.

“What is this? This is… What is this?” The voice was breathy and childish, and sounded like a cross between a dozen children reading lines at almost the same time and the rustle of leaves in the wind. The three things turned, the one on the right holding up his tied handkerchief, the middle and left one each holding two stones of the four that had once sat in a circle.

Ianto couldn’t tell the difference between the three, and didn’t know which had spoken. Well—he amended—the one on the left had sort of longer branch arms, and perhaps the middle had a larger head… maybe…

“Um, those,” he points at the two holding his rocks with the hand not holding his stun gun, “are rocks I found as a kid, and that,” he moves to point at the one holding his ‘kerchief, “Is a knotted handkerchief.”

And then Ianto had no clue what to say.

“They go Together like this, yes?” Asked the middle one, holding it’s two pieces of rock together, and turning so that the one next to it could do the same.

“Um, sure.” Ianto mostly kept them the way they were, and any time he had to move them he put them back in a way that looked right. “So… Coffee?”

All three stopped and looked at him, but Ianto kept his face neutral. Then they all started making a gagging, coughing, clattering, wheezing noise, and threw their heads back in a rather human gesture of amusement. Laughter, then. Well.

Strange aliens in his house (except he had a sneaking suspicion that they actually weren’t), fascinated with his rocks and tied ‘kerchief (and didn’t that add to that suspicion of his?), and he was at a loss as to what to do.

(“Ianto, things like these hardly ever make sense, but when they do, and it all points to what ‘ve been telling you, don’t go ignoring it. Now go get your sister and keep your nose out of the gutter. Yes, you can keep those rocks of yours, but I’m boiling them in salt first, and wash your hands! Ianto!”)

Call Jack, perhaps. Torchwood in general, certainly.

But when he had to do group projects at Uni, he brought coffee for everyone the first meet up, and it worked. When he was first working at Torchwood One, Coffee was what got him through the awkward fumbling’s of getting to know the Archives.

Coffee always made things better.

Twiggy fingers trailed down his cheek, and Ianto jerked away despite himself, and nearly knocked into another one of the things.  A noise from above him made him look up, and saw the third one crouching on his ceiling, ‘kerchief held between it’s hands.

“You could have been one of Ours, You could be Chosen…”

“You could have been Ours, Little Boy…”

“Sad, Angry Little Boy, would you have come with Us?”

Ianto didn’t know what they were talking about, and the two on either side of him were touching his arms, his face, and he wasn’t exactly touch-shy, but this was gtting a bit much.

“Why, Little boy…”

“Sad Boy…”

“Angry, Afraid Little Boy…”

“Have We never noticed You?”

“Never Ever… And Why?”

“Yes, why?”

“We would have come for You…”

“We would have been Friends…”

“Yes, the best of Friends…

“You and Us…”

“Us and Forever…”

“The Very Best of Friends…”

“Forever and Ever…”

“But You’re not there… But what is This Little Boy?”

“This… This Thing Here…”

“It Twists and Twists…”

“And has two ends like This…”

They were all once again looking at the handkerchief, trading ends between three sets of hands, wings fluttering, clattering, and Ianto was creeping backwards, step by pain-staking step, crouching to twist beneath the branch-like arms behind him, needing a bit of space, a bit of room to breathe air that didn’t smell like rain and flower petals (petals like the ones in the man’s mouth), and very nearly slipped on the floor.

Flower petals of varying colours were laid out all over the floor, piles of them making dunes across his living room and into his room, full flowers laid out on the bedspread, and suddenly he really needs to sit down.

He also really should have called Torchwood (and by extension Jack).

This was after all the Faeries that they were looking into after all.

And his phone was in his room. Fantastic.

“Could you show Us how?”

“Yes, show Us this Thing…”

“Twist it so, just for Us, Dear Little Boy…”

“Show Us how…”

“Just so, twisted like how…”

“How it’s twisted like so, this Thing…”

“It’s a remembrance knot… you make it when you’ve lost someone… hold on.” He didn’t know why he was going to do it, but they would obviously be happy if he did, and what’s sacrificing a handkerchief for the rest of his night to go alright?

In his room, he immediately notices that, along side the pile of intact flowers on the bed, and petals all over the floor, a small sapling grew on top of his bedside table.

Ianto closed his eyes.

If he remembered correctly, which he knows he has, his phone is directly under that.

Fantastic.

Going to his dresser, he pulls out three ‘kerchiefs, gag ones Lisa had gotten him on Christmas, and decides to ignore the sprigs of lavender that tumble from the folds.

Back in the living room, the three Fae are crouched with Lisa’s Knot between them, stroking the fabric and poking fingers at the twist, though they all turn towards him when he pulls the first from his small stack.

There’s silence when he demonstratively holds it out, displaying the cartoonish holly berries on the green fabric, and folds it to have a long rectangle with pointed ends. Exaggerating the process of tying a knot in the fabric, he wonders why the silence seems startling, and decides that it’s because with these three around, there’s always a background noise, the burbling of a creek, the hush of rain, the rustling of leaves, and to have them focus so entirely is something more than strange.

He tosses the first towards them, and they all grab at it, before it’s hidden beneath the fingers of the one on the left.

Ianto ties the next, again exaggerating his moves with the blue Winnie The Pooh themed ‘Kerchief, and tosses it to them again.

The one with the Holly patterned knot tries to grab for it with a spare hand, but the other two smack it’s flailing arm away with a sound like splintering wood, and there’s such a scramble that Ianto ties the last red, pirate themed ‘kerchief and tosses it into the fray.

“Not fair…—”

“Give it here…—”

“It’s mine…—”

“All Ours…—”

 The bustle of flailing limbs was rising into the air, wings lifting them up, sounding like a swarm of locusts, a colony of angry bees, their just-out-of-sync voices jumbling together as they twirled, wind picking up around him (but not touching him. Later, when he heard the account of the teacher, he’s less confused, but then, later, he’s pulling his mother’s Remembrance Knot form it’s place and thanking her for her superstitious nature), until their edges are blurring together, disjointing, until hardly any part of them look solid.

These solid parts twirl together, green blurring around them, flashes of blue, a darker green, and red occasionally being seen, until that’s all that’s left.

The sound the three knots make when they hit the petal-strewn ground is anticlimactic, and Ianto doesn’t know if he should be disappointed or not when the three knots seem to twist in on themselves until they disappear with a faint popping noise. A faint mist erupted from the spot before dissipating.

In the silence of the flat, Ianto takes in the light coming through from his open window, the petals over the floor, and makes his way through the mess to his kitchen. He needed a Coffee, damn the time.

Berries are everywhere, along with piles of wheat, a tower of apples, and it looked like they’d planted potatoes and carrots in his sink, otherwise filling it with dirt.

There was also a slaughtered chicken on his table.

Ianto Sighed.

There was so much to clean…

In the quiet, Ianto hears the sound of his shower going, and heads towards his bathroom.

The door is a bit hard to open, but he supposed it would be, considering there were a couple of inches of sand on the floor.

He ignores that for now (the cleaning… oh the cleaning…), and walks the short distance to get to the taps, and turns them off.

The bath, half full with lukewarm water, had Lilly pads in it, and a number of bright green frogs.

The frogs, though probably confused to find themselves in a bathtub (perhaps even more than Ianto was to find them IN his bathtub), seemed happy enough in their predator-free pond, so Ianto closed the curtain and walked away.

He sighed again.

His room was still as it was, though there was now a pinecone on one of the branches of the sapling.

This wouldn’t be strange, except that it was 1. A Sapling, and 2. What looked to be a Cedar tree.

He had enough of being an adult about the situation, had dealt with Faeries invading his home to gawk over knotted fabric with as much maturity and good decision making as he could, and that’s how he justified walking over and poking the pinecone.

It crumbled, and a black thing fell to the ground with a thunk.

It was his phone.

It smelled strangely of cedar wood.

(The new phone he gets soon after that also smells like Cedar, as does every new phone he gets, and he’s not a woodsy person, and he doesn’t know how to explain it away.)

Ianto makes sure it’s still working, contemplates calling Jack, and then decides that no, he’s done tonight.

He finds his camera, takes a couple of pictures of each room (He’d been working in Archives for more than 5 years, some things just make sense), and then, instead of calling Torchwood like he probably should, he calls the number of a cleaning service he pulls from a discarded newspaper.

So, when at work the next day he finds that his rocks were found at Gwen’s house (and he very carefully doesn’t say anything when she complains about the mess, though it’s really hard), he doesn’t mention it, only takes them home, glad to have them back (even if he hadn’t noticed they were missing quite yet), and keeps things to himself.

He prints out the pictures, and puts them in a file he has in his desk at his apartment, labeled “Interactions Outside of Torchwood.”

There are very few pictures in it, but then, the original file had been buried under rubble at Canary Warf.

He wonders if he should mention anything, but one look at Jack and the haunted look on his face, Ianto decides that there’s been enough about Faeries recently (and isn’t it irritating to have to correct the spelling on everyone’s reports? Fairy’s indeed…).

Then there’s more filing, more to do in the archives because a well-meaning Gwen decided to try to help, and then they’re going to camp out in the countryside to check out a bout of missing people, and it’s a horror movie come to life, and Ianto feels like that stupid character you yell at through the screen, the one you shake your head at when their head is rolling away from their shoulders because they went down the darkened hallway after splitting up with the rest of the team.

And he’s terrified. He’s seconds away from shitting his pants, because from the start it seemed like it would be aliens, but he sees part of the town, and part of him fears the worst (except not really, because he couldn’t imagine something like this), because there’s no sign of struggle.

For a while, before things got straightened out in his mind, Ianto had lived through tough times in a tough neighborhood, had done things he wasn’t proud of, done things he was absurdly proud of (one minor conviction for shoplifting, and he put it on his resume when applying for Torchwood, because no one would believe how much else he’d taken without being caught), and he knew what signs to look for.

So either the aliens managed to take the village folk without a fight, or… or.

Or.

Ianto breathes deeply, and winces when it puts a strain on his splinted ribs.

Tosh in the seat next to him is quiet, had been quiet the whole ride back to Cardiff, only nodding when Ianto had hesitantly asked if she wouldn’t mind coming home with him. Just for company.

She doesn’t complain, or start for the elevator when it opens, and waits the whole ten minutes with him until the elevator is empty, and no one else is waiting to go up.

They’re still quiet when Ianto unlocks his door, and when Ianto takes her coat to be hung up, her mouth makes something like a smile, and an answering sort-of smile aches on his own face.

Suddenly he feels a bit awkward, and he realizes that this is the first time he’d had someone over to his apartment (aside from Jack, but then Jack’s always the exception), and he suddenly sees all the things he hadn’t thought to buy.

There’s no rug on the wood flooring, there’s nothing on the walls, he doesn’t have any pillows on the couch, and he suddenly feels the need for a good blanket, the one you can feel the weave of, the kind he’d cuddled up into with his Mum on bad nights.

Still holding Tosh’s coat, he blurts “D’you want to go shopping?”

He doesn’t immediately feel the need to take it back, which is strange considering things like that would usually make him feel that, but he hadn’t realized quit how much he was missing in his apartment.

“Sure.”

He holds her coat out for her, a smile cracking his face briefly at the ridiculousness of helping her into her coat not five minutes after he helped her out of it. An answering, and equally brief smile flits across Tosh’s face.

“What are we looking for?”

“I have no pillows, no proper blankets, and no rugs… I suppose my sheets are rather boring as well.” Ianto hopes it doesn’t sound as much like he’s dragging her along for chores as it seems to him, but Tosh only nods. A thought occurs to him, then.

“Also, Ice cream. And Hot Chocolate. And I suppose you’ll need a tooth brush…”

And Tosh smiles. “S’mores Fudge Ice cream, definitely.”

“The bigger tub, the better”

“Do you have proper spoons for it?”

“Spoons?”

“The really large ones you can get big scoops with.”

“We’ll have to buy some then.”

And then things seem to get better, and it’s very late when they make it back to his apartment, and even later when Ianto brings out his laptop to show her pictures, both of them curled together under the three Proper Blankets, plush pillows surrounding them.

It’s a number of glasses of Irish Hot Chocolate later that Ianto brings out the innocuously named picture file “CHORES” and decides that perhaps everyone else has had enough Faeries for a while, but Faeries decorating his home is just unreal and fantastic enough to distract them from the other unreal, and rather more horrific and recent experience.

Ianto swallows his mouthful of half-melted ice cream, and revels in the slight case of brain-freeze that causes, because it means he can’t feel the phantom edge of a blade at his throat, ready to slice him ear-to-ear.

Both of them are laughing as they go through the pictures again, and Tosh says, “So that’s why you’ve been smelling like flowers? And why your place smells a bit like a florists?”

“I suppose… Can’t really tell anymore, tough d’you want to know a secret about how everything got cleaned up?”

“What?”

Ianto lowers his voice to a whisper.

“I called in cleaners.”

Over her giggles, he continues “The girl they sent started crying—no, no, I’m serious, actually crying!— when I showed her everything! They had to send in a couple of other’s. AND it cost a small fortune.”

“Oh no Ianto, really? I can only imagine…”

Ianto shook his head, and kept shaking it as he spoke (partly because, why not? And partly because he didn’t think he could stop), “That’s the secret. Torchwood’s billing the foot. Footing the bill I mean. Footing.”

That set her off into a fresh bout of giggles, and Ianto is glad he’d asked her over, glad she’d agreed, and glad they were both alive to enjoy it.

He was also bloody glad that there were so many stores within easy driving distance that were open so late.

Neither of them have to talk about it to know that this isn’t even remotely romantic when they crawl into Ianto’s bed, especially when they bust into fresh giggles when Tosh comments on her likelihood of leaving this bed smelling of roses, and Ianto skips running the next morning to help Tosh with her slight hangover (there’s those Welsh genes that save the day for him), and he makes a huge fruit salad for the both of them, both smiling when he pulls out the fruit, and he casually mentions how glad he’d been to know that the pile of berries wasn't 100% or else they all would’ve spoiled the next day.

Tosh comes into work one day with a new necklace, but Ianto doesn’t notice that so much as he notices that she’s gotten rather jumpy, and wonders if they need to have another comfort night.

It turns out that they do, and After Mary Ianto shows up at her door with a box of supplies, topped with a newly purchased hand-woven blanket, and without words he starts setting out the ice cream, the liquor, the small box of instant Hot Chocolate to tide them over while they wait for the real stuff to finish melting in the pot.

He doesn’t ask if she read his mind, he knows the answer, and he doesn’t ask what she heard, and somehow they were going to get through this.

He sits through her tears, comforts her hurts (and doesn’t he wish he had someone there for him like this After Lisa), and only leaves her for a moment, and then only to get the file folder of pictures he’d taken from the CCTV camera’s in the Hub and it’s accompanying USB key.

By the end of the night, he has learned more about Tosh’s lesbian sex-life than he thought he’d ever know, and by the time they fall asleep on Tosh’s bed, he’s gotten her to start laughing over the good times of her short relationship with Mary.

Everything isn’t all better, not even close, but they’re heading in the right direction.

Then, Suzie.

Ianto hadn’t had much of a relationship with the woman (But then, before After Lisa, Ianto hadn’t had much of a relationship with anyone), and it shows when, after she’s somehow been brought back to… if not life, then animation, she asks after Owen and Tosh in the interrogation room, but not him.

He doesn’t much care, but when it comes out that the Serial Torchwood Killer (because the Torchwood Serial Killer title was Suzie’s) was doing what he was doing due to programming and regular doses of Retcon, Ianto wants to hit something.

The missing paperwork for the amount of Retcon being used, it was all Suzie.

And now Gwen was going to die if they didn’t do something soon, until the Risen Mitten (2.0) was shot (literally), and Ianto makes Coffee, because it was likely only Gwen who was going home at anything resembling a decent hour, and everyone would need their coffee to get through all the paperwork.

Ianto can’t feel anything for Eugene, doesn’t think much about his situation other than to think that it must be interesting to walk around the whole day invisible to people around you.

Oh.

Wait.

Rolling his eyes at being sarcastic to himself, he Files information on the Gorgon Eye in G under Alien Body Parts.

And later, he only feels pity for the three who come out of their own timeline form the Rift, and when he’s told to get them new personal documentation, he makes them two.

One, that Jack asked for, and one with their original names on it, and isn’t surprised when they refuse to give up the only thing they had left to them form their original timeline.

He and Tosh share a look when Owen goes out of his way for the pilot woman, and they go back to Ianto’s place to watch old Bond Movies, and make plans to continue the next night, and maybe do a Matrix Marathon later.

They end up postponing that Marathon until later, because Tosh asks him to watch Ever After, and The Princess Bride, and Muppets Treasure Island when Owen gets hurt form the Weevil Boxing ring, because she says she needs comfort movies, and romance, and comedy after the past month, and Ianto agrees.

It seems too soon after that that Tosh and Jack are sent off on their own, to the past through some Rift-related problem, and Ianto thinks it’s a horrible kind of thing that it’s Tosh who’s sent back, and only she knew the equation to get them back.

When both she and Jack are back, Ianto feels like there’s barely enough time to breath before the Rift is being torn open, Roman soldiers slipping through (and oh did Ianto know Jack had fun dealing with THAT), the Black Death (he’d never seen Owen so shaken), and by the time it’s over, the whole situation is made worse by the fact that Ianto hadn’t had a single cup of coffee in more than 48 hours.

A day in the life of Torchwood.

And the day Ianto Jones fully understands that Jack Harkness cannot die. He saw it, and all the pieces that had been scattered through the time he’d been at Torchwood Three slotted into place.

Immortality.

That explained the strange inside jokes about the leader of Torchwood Three, from back at his time at One.

Of course this would also be the time that Jack goes running off with hardly a goodbye and certainly no explanation, and then they don’t see him again for a long while after that.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

One thing you must understand about the 456 is that they are junkies.  Highly intelligent Junkies, with lots of blissed out time in which to think up more ways to get their fix.

They also have a system.

Find a planet.

Infect it with a disease.

Make a deal, a small number of children in return for the cure. A cure that has a side effect that makes descendants, children of the right age, susceptible to temporary mind control via sound waves

Return much later, and ask for a much larger amount of children, in return for peace.

Rinse.

Repeat.

Repeat until all the inhabitants of the planet are too old to reproduce, and then…

Well, according to most others, they gas the planet and sell it off through a third-party.

There’s not a body left on the planet, so it’s open for anyone to take.

What most don’t know is that, being Highly intelligent Junkies with so much time to figure out how to get their fix, the 456 manage to get one last batch of children from the planet before they sell it off.

It’s a strange gas they use, really.

But they’ve been using it for so long, and they haven’t before been driven off from a planet, so they don’t test any further with it beyond the first dozen planets, and so don’t know what, exactly, would happen if the gas interacted with a body that was exposed to so many different energies in a comparatively short amount of time.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

One person may be able to figure it all out, but he doesn’t find out about this puzzle until later, and when he does, it seems kind of obvious. The certain kind of obvious that comes from missing only one bit of information.

But that clever, clever man doesn’t show up until much later, so don’t dwell on it.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

When Jack came back, it was with so much drama and heroics; Ianto could only shake his head at the typical Jack-ness of it.

Saving the team, and saving Ianto from having to shoot the Blowfish? And just in the Nick of time, too.

Ianto’s just as glad for it; he doesn’t much like shooting, though he was one of the top ranking shots in Torchwood One.

He’d ben tempted to take Jack’s offer to teach him how to use guns, having seen footage of his teaching methods, but figured it would get obvious enough that he knows what he’s doing, and besides, at the time there was Lisa to think of.

And so soon after Jack’s unexpected return, there comes John Hart, and Jack is running off again.

Why Jack was surprised when the team followed him, Ianto could only wonder.

But Ianto Jones had been watching Jack for a long time (and didn’t that sound creepy?), and just like how he noticed the shared looks between him and Gwen, he noticed the looks between him and John.

Though, this one spoke of a long history, rather than a shared secret

And if John Hart thought he was being covert about his crush on Jack by flirting with everyone, then the Time Agency must not teach it’s agents about body language and facial queues.

Ianto learned how to hide things like that when he was 10.

He almost smirks when he’s called Eye-Candy.

He hasn’t been called that in a good long while, and it was actually flattering when said by someone who seems to be as focused on sex as Jack is, if not more so.

(Perish the thought.)

Unless, of course, there’s a whole different meaning for the name in the 51st Century, which is possible depending on how you looked at Jack being upset at the name.

But then, Ianto was also partly certain that Business formal suits are some sort of sex costume in the 51st Century from how much Jack likes Ianto in them.

In fact, John’s labeling of him as Eye-Candy is starting to solidify the possibility, which means that Ianto will have to bring out the sexual Harassment forms again.

And then Jack asks him out on a date.

It’s so awkwardly asked, it’s obvious that Jack doesn’t do this often (asking for dates, certainly, since Ianto knew he had sex regularly), and it makes the situation so much more endearing, makes Ianto one step closer to trusting Jack not to abandon them again, than if he’d come after him with all his charming swagger.

And then there’s John again, and a gun, and if he was in his teens, he would have done it, if he was in anything but a suit, he would have done it, if he weren’t so sure that Jack could handle himself, he would have done it, but as he isn’t a teen, he was wearing a suit (not ruined this time out on the field, ta for that), and Jack seems to have been dealing with John Hart longer than Ianto has, so he doesn’t pull his hands up to numb and crush the delicate bones of his wrist.

He doesn’t turn the tables, doesn’t take the gun, doesn’t smack John Hart in his insufferably smug face, and instead imagines Jack and him waving John Hart goodbye as he’s sent to the center of the sun. Or at least very far away.

But he can’t keep in the small smirk curling his lips, or the eye roll, and doesn’t even try to keep from raising an eyebrow at John in the last few seconds before the elevator doors closed.

He wonders what John Hart thinks of him from that.

He wonders what the look on his face would be had he had actually disarmed him just then, and contents himself with these thoughts before having to run to try to find the rest of the team.

John was a pathological liar, but Ianto wasn’t going to risk it.

But then everyone’s fine, and Ianto keeps his smile to himself at the look on Hart’s face when Jack show up behind them, though it went a little sad by the end of the confrontation.

He didn’t like John Hart, but it had to hurt that his crush literally had forever, and didn’t want to spend any more of it with him.

He also didn’t think that John really deserved to be blown up, though he’d only known the man for a few hours.

The woman in the hologram seemed to believe he did, and to be fair, he did kill her, so he could respect that belief… but he didn’t believe in using an explosive device that would take out more than just John Hart, and maybe the building around him.

That is, in the truest sense of the word, overkill.

When John Hart is saved, the bomb no longer a threat, and the day—the same day—ahead of them, Ianto thinks about the filing he hadn’t gotten to due to this whole situation as Jack and John have a less than heartfelt goodbye, and is wondering if he should invite tosh over to start that Matrix Marathon when John brushes past him and cops a feel of his arse.

Ianto doesn’t give him the satisfaction of jumping, only raises an eyebrow at him and smirks before darting his eyes in Jack’s direction significantly.

John returns the look with an eyebrow waggle, and Ianto’s rolling his eyes just as John’s disappearing.

Tosh has some work she wants to get done at her house, so Ianto goes home and writes in his personal, not-at-Torchwood diary to write things up.

Later, he’ll update his Torchwood diary, minus groping and eyebrow waggles, and things will continue.

Beth, the woman, reminds him a bit of Lisa (a much meeker version), and the thought still makes him sad, but he’s mostly past feeling physical pain at the thought of her.

Beth, the sleeper agent alien, also reminds him of Lisa, and oh, there’s the reason why he’s only mostly past feeling physical pain at the thought of her.

One big difference between them makes itself obvious in the end, when Beth the Woman fakes holding Gwen hostage to get them to shoot her.

Ianto doesn’t speak ill of the dead, but he does wonder at what it said about Lisa and Beth, that Beth would remove the threat to those she loved, even if it meant her death, and Lisa would cling to life so desperately despite knowing what would happen if things went wrong.

Ianto wonders at himself, that he would help both.

Tosh needs another Movie night after Tommy, so they watch Mulan, Back to the Future 1 and 2, and finish the night drunk and watching old Captain America cartoons.

Tosh, in the morning, asks if, on a day without a hangover, she could join him on one of his morning runs, or maybe an after-work run if it isn’t too late.

“I seem to be needing too many movie nights lately, and if I don’t work off some of that ice cream, I’m going to need a movie night for an entirely different reason.”

The next movie night they have is also a vegetarian night, and they both ponder why they hadn’t thought this was needed at what Ianto liked to call the Countrycide Event, and Toshiko stays over, and they go on a run early in the morning, jogging to Tosh’s place and showering there.

Ianto had stayed over a couple of times, so he picked up a suit he’d accidentally left there earlier, thoughtfully dry-cleaned by Tosh, and they go into work together.

He thinks it’s a bit weird that Rhys knows about them, but thinks it’s good for Gwen to be able to keep her comparatively normal life.

Ianto doesn’t remember two days of work, but his personal diary mentions someone named Adam, and expresses confusion as to why he isn’t in the rest of his diary, and Ianto understands that for some reason they shouldn’t remember this Adam person, hence the Retcon.

He wonders if his diary nullifies that, but the only Adam he could think of was one of the casualties from Torchwood One, a tall black man who always complained that he hadn’t even liked coffee before Ianto started working there.

When Ianto meets Martha Jones, he wonders at how many other Jones’s he’ll meet. He’d only met Harriet Jones for a short amount of time, but she seemed like a nice person, despite the rumors of her having lost her edge from her brief stint as Prime Minister.

And Smiths, if he recalled correctly, there was a Mickey Smith and a Sarah Jane Smith, along with her son and a super computer named Mr. Smith or something of the sort.

When he sees the footage of the thing in her stomach wriggling around, he’s reminded of an old acquaintance who stabbed herself three times in the chest when she’s been so high she’d convinced herself she felt something moving in her chest.

Everything turns out fine afterwards, except right when they’re ready to finish thing up, things go to shit.

But then Owen had to go get his annoying, sarcastic self shot.

Another Movie night, with both crying a bit any time there’s a sarcastic, slightly bitter character, and Ianto thinks that the Matrix Marathon is a goal for a far future when alcohol makes them thoughtful and slow, and they trade plans of what they were going to leave each other should the other die, about messages they’d leave for the others, and Ianto says, quite smartly he thinks, that they should make a clause for if one of them dies before the other.

(Ianto later thinks on this when re-watching the video left for them much later, and hides his own, both on his record should he ever be declared dead, and also in the Archives, leaving a list of things he wanted everyone to have, including a note as to what WOULD have gone to certain people. He almost takes back the part that says that Jack gets both his personal and Torchwood diary’s, but figures his embarrassing thoughts in writing would be the least of his worries by then.)

Jack brings out another Risen Mitten, and brings Owen back.

Entirely back… sort of.

Ianto wonders what it means that Owen is still physically dead while still animated, and wonders if it’s because it was Jack who brought him back.

With Suzie, she was linked to Gwen’s life force, but what about Jack? There was obviously something different about his life force, since it seemed to be tied permanently to life, so perhaps the glove did it’s job as well as it could, considering Jack’s body refuses to let go of it’s life force?

It’s possible, and Ianto writes it down to look over later, because right now it didn’t seem concrete enough to mention.

But then there’s Death in the Hospital, and it looks like it’ll be something like the apocalypse if they don’t keep 12 people from dying in the hospital, and then they nearly lose Owen again.

Never has Ianto wished he could punch Owen more, but it didn’t seem like it would be fair since he wouldn’t be able to heal from it.

Ianto satisfies himself by remembering the time he’d shot Owen, and tries not to feel bad about it, considering that’s how Owen…

Well.

He doesn’t feel any pity for the man when he notices that he’s been sulking around the Hub, and hopes he isn’t making things worse for Tosh when he orders a pizza and leaves the Hub to the two, and convinces Jack to sleep at his place that night.

Of course they did other things, many pleasant things, and Ianto was only a bit worried that he’d mention to Tosh what was done on the couch some future movie night.

If he did, they would be even on the sharing of homosexual exploits front.

When Gwen is infected with a parasite that makes her look pregnant, the night before her wedding, Ianto finds it absurdly funny, but keeps it to himself.

It’s only a little less funny when the man at the bridal shop thinks the dress is for him (though it’s something he and Tosh giggle over later, and Ianto really doesn’t like the considering look Jack gives him), and when the wedding is actually happening, Ianto briefly wonders at the fact that he didn’t look too terribly different than he did any other day, and should he have asked Gwen if she wanted him to wear something different? Jeans and a t-shirt with a tie to make it formal? Leather trousers and a button-up (Jack would have enjoyed that)? Chaps?

Ianto could’ve stood to be the least dressed up person in a crowd.

(For once.)

And there was some sort of cosmic joke floating around in the air that the zombie-looking alien who wanted to rip the alien baby from Gwen’s stomach took on the form of her step-mother.

After the Night Travellers coming out of their film, Ianto remembers one of the few calm moments he’d had with his Tad, where his Tad talked about how when film first came out, people were so amazed with it, how people described it as so realistic it was as if the characters were about to walk straight out of the film, “And that’s before colour and things like picture quality were added and taken into account.”

Ianto also thinks about the fact that the first time they have more than two Torchwood agents at a movie night, it turns into work, and Tosh jokes that perhaps they should all sit down to a showing of Harry Potter.

Ianto thinks they could all do with a little magic in their lives, but thinks that with their luck they’d pull through Voldemort, or a couple of Death Eaters, or maybe a werewolf. And not the Twilight kind.

Gods, how had Rhi managed to convince him to read those books?

Ianto had just been crushed by rubble, had his shoulder reset, and was looking forward to a post-near-death Coffee when he sees John Hart again.

It’s a hologram, and he’s off somehow, but then, Ianto isn’t feeling terribly generous when it comes out that John was the one who put them trough the explosion in the first place, and it isn’t until later that he connects it with the way an old acquaintance had been off hen they’d been threatened with death to them and their younger sibling if they didn’t do what they were told, and by that point Ianto can sort of understand it.

Doesn’t like it.

Understands it.

He also understands that Jack is carrying a ton of emotional baggage when it comes to his younger brother, but if Ianto ever encounters him on his own, he’s shooting him. Grey says he begs for death, Ianto accepts that, and he’s always tried his best to be helpful.

But Jack spent a couple of centuries under ground, and while Ianto thinks Jack could probably talk to someone about it, he didn’t hold out hope that Jack actually would.

They’ve had sex quite a few times since Jack came back way back when, and probably more times than ‘quite a few times’ might cover, but it always seems a bit more frantic after Jack dies, and it always happens more times than Ianto thinks is possible, and if someone could go through mourning and shag at the same time, Ianto tries his hardest to do it.

Sore and satisfied, Ianto feels hollow, stretched, and doesn’t want to go back to his apartment. It was even more full of memories than it was when he had it full of furniture Lisa would like, and Ianto had learned young how to cry silently, but a sob comes through anyway when he thinks that that Matrix Marathon was never going to happen. No more movie nights. No more running partner. He doesn’t get to be the Bi/Gay best friend (and hadn’t that been a shock when he realized that that’s pretty much what he was), and he doesn’t get to hug, coddle, and cuddle Tosh.

Ever again.

Ianto wonders who’s going to bring him a tub of ice cream after this.

He wonders if he’ll ever be able to look at the stuff after this.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

The next day he makes a video, and prepares a file.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

In your DNA is a manual for everything in your body, and there is a note left there for any scars you get as parts of reparations that didn’t go perfectly, and there’s note of when you gain weight, when you grow taller or wider, when your muscles develop differently, for what changes happen for when you hit puberty, there’s a note for all of it, and your body is always working on those small problems. This means that as you get older, things don’t heal like they did, some old problems reawaken, some thing just don’t work the same way they used to, and eventually your biological clock checks out if it isn’t shut down prematurely.

With Jack Harkness, it’s like he has a reload point in his body that it reverts to any time he gets hurt or dies, like the only save point he can get to in a game, with a built-in cheat that keeps him from having to do things over again.

If asked, he would likely tell you it’s exactly like a cheat, though he wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was a cheat to the game, or a cheat against himself.

But every species has some sort of manual built into their system, alien or otherwise, and though they may work differently, reacting differently to some medicines, reacting differently to some foods, reacting differently to some toxins, this is a constant of the universe.

Even Time Lords have this Manual, though theirs reacts differently to death, replacing the manual as opposed to making a new note on top of it or clocking out immediately.

Should a Time Lord die, their body works to repair it, and if that isn’t working they switch out manuals. When they run out of Manuals, THAT is when they experience true death.

The 456 see this, and know that somewhere under all those notes are the old plans for a younger version of you.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

In Torchwood, timing is everything.

You must be there in the nick of time; you must find the solution before it’s too late; the show must go on, all that rot.

This is shown in the fact that Gwen finds out she’s pregnant just after figuring out that there was something going on with children, just before they have to evacuate the Hub because someone’s planted a bomb in Jack’s stomach, and as Ianto watches Jack looking up at him, some part of him not horrified for Jack to have to experience that is wondering if Myfanwy would be alright.

Another part of him wonders if it could be programmed into a dinosaur’s DNA to die via being eaten or else through some sort of explosion.

But that thought will have to wait, because a dinosaur flying around Cardiff is the least of his worries right now.

And then he’s back to being worried until he’s shaken from the explosion, everything muffled, his cheek bleeding, body aching, and he has to go, because there was a sniper, of course there’s a sniper, and he had to get away—but Jack—he had to get away, Jack would survive (could he?), they’d find each other soon enough, he hoped Gwen was alright (should she be dealing with shite like this when carrying? Isn’t there some rule against bombings around pregnant women? Of course, if there was, Torchwood would disregard it, of course, since Torchwood’s the bloody exception to most things), and he wondered if he was nursing a concussion—of course he was, of course, of course, of course…

Everything stays shit after that, including the less than blissful family reunion cum coming out story, and more shit keeps getting piled on.

He does get in contact with Gwen, and they do meet up, and they do find out about Jack, and they do eventually find him, and they do manage to get the cement block he’d trapped in, and that’s all of the sprinkles of good on a steaming pile of shit that is the past couple of days.

And then he has to dip back into a life of crime, but it’s a bit more fun than it used to be, because rather than stealing to move on through life, they’re stealing to help save the children of the world.

They are the strangest vigilantes that Ianto could think of.

There’s also Lois Habiba, who Ianto is holding out his opinion of, because she did help them, yes, and he could tell that Gwen wanted to have her join Torchwood after this whole mess is cleared up, but from what he could tell at the moment, she seemed like the middle ground between Ianto and Tosh.

He didn’t like the idea of starting to replace Tosh, because no one would be able to do that, and not only because Tosh was a genius in more than just name.

It would be a relief to have some of his work helped with by someone more competent in organization than Gwen and her misplaced ‘help’, but…

But.

But that was something to think on later, once there was certainty that there would be an after.

But she turns out to give in to Gwen’s request, and soon they are seeing through her eyes, and Ianto was reading her short-hand aloud (and wouldn’t that be convenient in work)

Finding out what the governments were planning was horrifying, and Ianto thought about what would have happened if the 456 had come back when he was a kid, and knew with certainty that he would be one part of that 10%.

He didn’t agree with how Jack seemed to have a hand in giving up 10 children to the 456, but could understand that he hadn’t seen any alternative at the time.

He wondered how many decisions like that Jack had had to make, and thought it was a neat lie Jack had told himself to say he was chosen because they needed people who wouldn’t care.

He doesn’t get a chance to meet Jack’s daughter or grandson (and isn’t that a weird thought), but in one of the few spare minutes he gets, he does look them up, and though he was no Tosh, he’d learned some things from her both directly and indirectly, so he can find the hidden files without bringing up any alarms and without leaving any fingerprints behind.

He wonders how difficult it must have been for her to grow up and eventually look older than Jack, her father.

Alice didn’t look old, no, but she definitely looked a bit older than Jack.

Steven looked like he inherited both his mothers and his grandfather’s eyes.

Plans are made, and Ianto feel confident as he makes his way to London with Jack, and soon (almost too soon), they’re in front of a gas-filled glass box where the 456 were, and Ianto almost lets Jack get away with being a bit overly dramatic, but can’t help but bringing a bit of realism into this.

Beside Jack it was very easy to be brave, be confident, to hope.

But.

Timing is everything in Torchwood, you must be there in the nick of time; you must find the solution before it’s too late; the show must go on, all that rot.

But then there’s the other side of the coin.

Tosh found happiness in her relationship with Mary, only to nearly go out of her mind and Mary turns out to be a murderous alien convict (who Ianto is almost entirely certain was going to eat her heart).

Owen plays a big part in saving the day when there was the Reset incident, and then he gets shot.

To top it off, he gets brought back to animation (not really life).

Ianto had been the one to review the footage on the day they died, and so he knew that just as they were getting along, just as there was more than a glimmer of hope that Owen would get his head out of his arse and see Tosh (actually see her, see Toshiko Sato and the wonderful woman she is), and then Tosh has to listen to Owen moments before he dies, dying herself shortly after.

And then there’s now.

Happy, Confident, seeing the glimmer on the horizon, beside Jack, and the 456 release that gas.

In those last moments, he wishes that that myth of seeing your whole life flash before your eyes was true, because he would live it all again and more if given the choice. He also thinks it’s ridiculously romantic (and fatalistic) for Jack to say he’d give up the world (or 10% of it) if only they let Ianto live, and wonders if Jack is doomed to live a cliché hero with an amped sex drive for all of eternity.

He also thinks of the one, single time he’d held Jack as he died, been there for him when he woke up, and thought that here was Jack, returning the favor, except that there would be no waking up in Jack’s arms (though he lets himself have a moment to believe, a moment to think this is one fucked up dream born of living through so much trauma, and when he wakes up he’ll be in Jacks arms after a fantastic shag, and he’d go into work in the morning to say hi to Tosh and Owen and Gwen, maybe Meet Alice Carter and her son, Jack’s Grandson, Steven, and it’ll all be a ridiculous dream), and he wonders how many times Jack has done this.

How many times has Jack held someone in his arms as they died, how many of them had he slept with, and if Ianto would be just one more face, until he isn’t even that in Jack’s memory. The air burns in his lungs, heart pounding.

“I love you.”

For one horrible moment, Jack doesn’t say anything, before

“Don't.”

He almost wants to laugh, because isn’t that just Jack? Refusing death, even when it wasn’t his own. He has to close his eyes against the ridiculousness of it.

“Ianto, stay with me. Stay with me. Please! Stay with me, please, please...”

He cracks his eyes back open. It’s so hard.

“Hey.” He wonders at the romantic tragedy that is Jack Harkness’s life, and wonders how many times, how many people, have been forced away from Jack (because who would willingly leave?)(That Doctor of his)

“It was good, yea?”

“Yea.”

“Don't forget me.” It’s a ridiculous thing to ask someone who’ll live for thousands of more years, but he can’t help himself.

“Never could.” Lie.

“A thousand years time? You won't remember me.” It was a reassuring lie though.

Why couldn’t he just believe in it? His heart was stuttering hart in his chest, lungs working to get oxygen in a toxin-filled room, and he silently begged Jack to tell him one more, just one more lie. One more lie so he could go back to the delusion that he’d wake up and all this would be a bad dream, and there would be Tosh, Owen, Gwen, Alice, Steven, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen, Alice, Steven, Jack, Jack, Jack…

Just one more thing to wonder at. Please.

“Yes I will. I promise. I will.”

And Ianto wondered no more.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Later, Jack sacrifices his grandson to force the 456 away.

Later, Lois Habiba is hired on as temporary Torchwood staff, until her treason can be dealt with.

Later, the computer system is back online, and Lois figures out how to change Ianto Jones’s status to deceased, and Both Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper get to see his video, the one he made after seeing Tosh’s video, and it says as much.

“Well, seems as though I’m dead if you’re watching this, and I hope that Gwen Cooper is still alive, and I know that Jack Harkness is, and as much as I hope that I die doing something for the grater good, it’s also likely a Weevil got me.

(In an Undertone) Gods, I hope I didn’t get taken down by a Weevil.

I got this idea from Tosh’s video, and if somehow Tosh got brought back to life (Pause to wave awkwardly at the camera) well, Hi. And Goodbye. Again. I hope we managed to get in that Matrix Marathon. (Pause, Ianto looks away from the camera, lips pursed.) I hope we did.

I don’t think it’s possible for Owen to be brought back again, but if you are, you’re an arse, and if Tosh is brought back as well, go on a date already. If she isn’t, then go put a tub of S’mores Fudge ice cream at her grave, because body there or no, you need to do that. (Pause) I’m serious.

Gwen, and I hope you’re still alive, and I hope you’re happy with Rhys, and maybe you’ll give one of the dozens of children you two are likely to have after me. Only the middle name though, because you really don’t need to think of Death and I in regards to your kid.

To any new Torchwood members… welcome to the one job where you’ll experience Hell and come running back for more. I survived Canary Warf and came to Cardiff to join Torchwood Three. I also nearly started up a Cybermen base of operations when I brought with me my half-converted girlfriend… don’t do that. If you’re having a problem, don’t keep it in. In this job it’s more than a bit not good. It may not be the end of the Earth if you don’t follow this advice but… (Eyebrow raise) if it inadvertently causes it, won’t you feel silly?

(Meaningful stare)

(Clears throat) Jack… In the Archives you’ll find a file with my name on it in the cabinet labeled “S.H.T.F Death/Other Log”… there ARE other files in there, one on Lisa, one on Owen’s deceased Fiancée, one on Tosh’s mother and the people who held her hostage, one on the previous members of Torchwood Three, and one on the people from Suzie’s group and on Max, the man she Retcon’d and programed. So in case you didn’t catch on, “S.H.T.F” stands for “Shit Hit The Fan”.

But my file… well, in it, you’ll find (pulls out folder and pulls out one small stack of papers and holds one up) Information that whoever you get to replace me should know, including Myfanwy’s feeding schedule and exact instructions on how to use the coffee maker. And Jack I know that there’ll be a replacement. (wry smile) I know I don’t have a huge job, but someone needs to look after the Archives and keep the residents of Torchwood Three fed and watered.

Which brings me to the next part of this. (Holds up a small stack of papers). This right here is a guide to the present Archive system, so you’ll know how to find things and you’ll know where things go. Don’t rely on Jack for this. Don’t let him deal with anything in the Archives, or else it’ll be lost forever.

(Another sheet held up)

I know that my stuff will likely go into storage, but this is a list of things I’d like to go elsewhere. Mostly to the Members of Torchwood who I know, but there it is. As a side note, Tosh, if you’re alive, you get the couch, and all the blankets, pillows, and all of my movies, and have a Movie Night for me, won’t you? Jack, and this is important, you need to get this (Reaches off camera and pulls out a leather bound book) from my apartment. It’ll be in my bedside table, but you need to get this. I know that there’ll be so much I wish I could tell you, or things I wish I had told you, and I’ll have written it here. This is my personal Diary. There’s significantly more in it than my Torchwood one. You need to get this. Please. There are also files in my desk you should probably see, or at least make sure they get put where they need to go, but please Jack, please do this. I’m probably going to regret this, but please.

The rest of the things in the file are various pictures I’ve managed to cobble together of the team, and there are copies in this file and in the one at my apartment. The Archives room is built to last through a Nuclear blast, so even if you set off an explosive directly in the Hub, it’ll stand. (Shrugs) Don’t ask why there would be an explosion in the Hub, but in our line of work, it could happen.

In the bottom of the cabinet there’ll be a USB drive or two or three depending on how much later I survive after this will have all files and programs from the main computer on them. Before you think I’ve been silly for this, know its password protected.

(Eyebrow raises, and smile)

74RD15

Yes, Jack, it is that with the appropriate letter-to-number changes. The Doctor is someone you’ll likely always remember, so there’s no fear of the information being lost.

(Pause, and Ianto takes a deep breath)

Really, Jack… Please get my diary from my apartment. If… If for some reason you don’t… Know I love you. I do. If I haven’t already told you, know that. That, and that I don’t regret any of it. Before you go on to thinking to blame yourself for my death, know that that’s ridiculous. Don’t tell me you forgot that I worked at Torchwood One before I came to work for you. I went through Cybermen and Daleks, and my girlfriend being half-converted, and I came back for more. You shot the monster my girlfriend became; you let a little girl go happily with faeries to save the world; you sent a shell-shocked soldier back to his own time in 1918, back to his death, and I didn’t leave. You make the hard decisions that other can’t make, and I love you all the more for it. If you somehow led me to where I was going to die, don’t you dare try to think that you can in any way order me to follow you without my having chosen to follow you. If you were there with me when I died, then all I have to say about it is thank you. Thank you for making sure I don’t die alone.

(Ianto tilts his head, considering)

If you manage to find a different way to convince yourself it was your fault I died, Gwen, if you’re there, I give you leave to smack him. If not, then as a senior Torchwood member, someone, give him a good slap, will you?

Well, this goodbye is significantly longer than Tosh’s, but I couldn’t leave the file to being found too late—seriously, don’t mess up my Archives—and I wanted to be able to cover all the bases. So. Just think about what I said.

(smile)

Bye.”

Later, Jack goes to Ianto’s apartment.

Later, Gwen starts to pack up Ianto’s things, until she has to stop, and it is held off for a much later day.

Later, when enough rubble from the Hub is moved, they find that the Archives room is, in fact, intact, as well as Jack’s room.

Later, they find a half-starved Myfanwy in the room that once housed the half-converted Lisa Hallett.

Later, Gwen sees Jack off the planet, only just showing in her pregnancy, and wonders if he’ll come back.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

The 456 terrorize a great many other planets before they hit one that knows how to fight back. Better, it knows how to destroy them, and so the 456 are no longer anyone’s problem, and people come to learn that the Face of Boe, while a peaceful being, also knows war. So a great many battles and wars go unsought when the Face of Boe made his opinion known that he does not condone such things, and life moves on with a number of fond memories, and the last bit of energy for revenge is snuffed.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Later, Torchwood Three is slowly being rebuilt, and bells ring at the New Year, but…

But.

But just a little while earlier, just a few weeks really, hardly any time at all, on an unseasonably warm day, there is an alleyway. At one point in time, a small boy found solace there in some found rocks, but now, there is a sound.

Just a small rustle. A breath.

And Ianto Jones wakes up.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.