15 August 5115 (Earth Standard Date)
Gliese 581g (Hubworld)
The lift car came to a halt, and the doors slid open. Beyond was the Director Level of the Torchwood Tower, with its open floor plan and the desks where the majority of the command staff and their assistants worked. No one even looked at her as she made her way toward Phillip’s office, and Samara conversely felt her nerves grow. Intellectually she was aware that she had nothing to worry about, but there was still that niggling doubt that just wouldn’t go away.
Bratsk was sitting at the desk in front of Phillip’s closed door. Today, the shape-shifter was wearing the form of a young human woman, with wavy dark hair and dark eyes. Samara would have put the shape at somewhere in the mid-twenties, wearing a snappy trouser-suit with odd-looking gauntlets on each arm.
“Doctor Wells,” the Zygon said, smiling. “Welcome to Torchwood once more.”
“Thank you, Bratsk,” she returned the greeting. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything…”
Bratsk rolled hir human eyes fondly. “If you count paperwork as anything…”
Samara couldn’t help but laugh. She had yet to meet the person who actually enjoyed paperwork, and it seemed as if her grandson-by-mating wasn’t the exception.
“Please go on in,” Bratsk invited, “and I’ll have coffee brought in shortly.”
“That sounds wonderful.” Samara had already had one cup that morning courtesy of Ianto, and she knew that whatever Bratsk made wouldn’t add up, but caffeine was always welcome.
She stepped around the desk, and the door opened on its own. It made Samara wonder if no one knew how to turn a doorknob anymore, but she didn’t say anything out loud. Instead, she made her way into the Director’s office, her eyes curious at her surroundings.
Yes, she’d been in the Tower before, but this was her first time in the Director’s office. The furnishings were a warm wood, and they shared the space with a high-tech holographic table that sat against one of the walls near the door. The shelves not only had old-fashioned books on them, but also knick-knacks from what had to have been from various time zones. She didn’t recognise any of them, but then she wasn’t that much into Earth history.
Phillip had, of course, lived through all the ages that were displayed on those shelves which was how she was sure that each and every one of those items and books was a genuine antique.
The large desk was of a wood and polymer blend, with a computer that had been built within it. It sat in front of large floor to ceiling windows that showcased the city beyond, and the light that streamed in from that window was polarised to human eye norms.
Phillip stood from his seat and came around the desk, smiling in welcome. “This is a pleasant surprise,” he said as he held out his hand to her.
Not to be outdone, Samara forwent the hand clasp and wrapped her arms around him in a hug. This wasn’t the first time she’d noticed that Phillip was just a bit chillier than human baseline, but she’d been told that was because of his innate ice magic. The black uniform tunic he was wearing was soft against her cheek and she couldn’t help but notice the subtle pheromones he exuded.
He hesitated for a moment, and then was returning the hug. Phillip didn’t hold on for long, but then Samara hadn’t expected him to. “Please, have a seat,” he ushered her toward the comfortable looking guest chair in front of the desk. He then returned to his own seat, curiosity written across his usually placid features. “What brings you to Hubworld?”
Samara looked at her grandson shrewdly. “I think you already know.”
Phillip nodded. “Gray.”
This might be easier than she’d thought. Phillip wasn’t an idiot; after all, Samara was there alone, and unannounced. There could only be one reason for her to do that.
“I admit,” he went on, “I was hoping you’d come to me about this. I know how Jack feels about his brother…”
Samara nodded. “I couldn’t bring this to him.”
“I understand completely. And I will help in whatever way I can.”
“Can you…” she swallowed, her nerves coming back. “I know the story of what happened, but I was wondering if you had any more details.”
“Probably not as much as you would think,” he admitted. “I wasn’t as close to Jack and Ianto then as I am now.” He leaned back in his chair, meeting her eyes over his steepled fingers. “And I admit that I went back and had to refresh my memories of events…they weren’t as clear as they might have been.”
Ianto had explained that humans weren’t meant to be immortal, and had a tendency to forget things that occurred far into the past. Her dragon son had confided in her that he did help Jack at times to recall things, and she was ever so grateful to him for that. She assumed that Clint aided Phillip with that as well.
“I do know that Gray was responsible for a lot of damage to Old Cardiff,” he said. “I also know that he buried Jack under the city for almost two thousand years, and if it hadn’t been for the Great Dragons chances are he might have come out of that insane.”
It made Samara’s heart ache for both of her sons. Gray had been taken and tortured and driven mad, and had blamed Jack for it all. To be honest, Samara had as well, until she’d seem the error of her ways and had realised that it had actually been Franklin’s fault, in that he’d left one child in the protection of another who wasn’t ready for that sort of responsibility. Jack – Jamys – had been set up for failure, even though Franklin hadn’t meant for that to happen.
She wasn’t even aware that she’d begun crying until Phillip was up and around the desk, offering her his handkerchief. Samara thanked him then wiped her eyes as he took his seat once more.
“I can’t even understand how hard this must be for you,” he told her, “even though I’ve had my fair share of betrayals.”
Samara was grateful that he wasn’t even trying to give her any sort of platitude. “From what you do know, what do you think are his chances at recovery?”
Phillip sighed. “There are so many more different means of treatment than there were back when this first happened, but I couldn’t honestly say. I think it’s worth a try, if for any reason other than you and Jack both need some sort of resolution. It might have happened a long time ago for him, but I’m positive that this is one memory that hasn’t faded with time.”
He was correct, of course. Something like this – a beloved brother, one that you thought you’d failed, coming back and trying to get revenge – had made its mark on Jack’s psyche. It was evident in Jack’s reticence to even talk about Gray when the opportunity came up; he either ignored it or changed the subject.
“There’s something else we need to consider.” Phillip leaned forward, resting his arms on the desk and lacing his fingers together, his eyes meeting Samara’s. To be honest there was something about his gaze that made her a little uncomfortable, and she wasn’t certain if it was the tinge of magic in them, or the seriousness. “Gray’s been in cryo-suspension for over three thousand years. I’ve made a study of the technology used to freeze him, and there are…issues with it.”
Samara’s heart began to hammer in her chest. “What do you mean?” She was a little afraid to ask.
“Torchwood realised early on that it would be best to awaken the preserved once a year, to make certain the process wasn’t doing any damage.” He looked as if he really didn’t want to say what he was about to, but Samara knew him well enough by now that Phillip Coulson didn’t like to leave anything unsaid…even the bad things. He needed to lay out ever possibility before deciding on a course of action. “With Gray, Jack decided that that just wasn’t possible, not with Gray’s mental instability. He couldn’t risk him getting loose again and doing anything even worse than he already had.”
“So you’re saying Gray might not…wake up?” Samara didn’t want to think about that, but she needed to. Anything could go wrong, and she had to prepared.
“That…or worse. The cryo-freeze might have done more damage than what he had going into it. He…might not be able to be saved, when it comes down to it.”
“I have to try,” she said determinedly. “He’s my son, and I have to do everything I can for him.”
Phillip smiled. “I thought you might say that.”
She huffed fondly. “Of course you did.”
He gave her a soft smile. “There are some preparations that need to be made before we can bring Gray out of cryo-freeze. Perhaps you’d want to come back tomorrow?”
A part of Samara wanted to wait right there. She didn’t want to leave, to risk missing something important.
But she also knew that Phillip was talking sense. If certain things needed to be done before they could attempt to awaken Gray, and those things took time, her hanging about on Hubworld wouldn’t change those. Plus, she trusted Phillip to let her know immediately if something went wrong with the procedure. He wouldn’t hide it from her.
Besides, she’d left Ddraig Llyn without telling anyone where she was going. Jack would worry, as would Ianto and the little ones. Samara couldn’t just stay away. The babies needed her. They’d accepted her so quickly, and she’d seen first-hand in the months she’d been living there just how fragile they could be. No, she couldn’t stay away without explanation.
And so, she nodded, getting to her feet. Phillip was around the desk once more, even before she’d straightened, and he was touching her shoulder gently. She could feel the chill of his fingers through the fabric of her blouse, and vaguely thought that her grandson-by-mating needed gloves, and that she had some black yarn that would do admirably…
“Let me walk you back to the transmat,” he offered.
Samara was grateful to him, but she shook her head in denial. “You’re probably very busy…”
“I am,” Phillip agreed, “but even the Director of Torchwood needs a break every now and then.”
“You’d let your paperwork build up for me?” Samara teased, suddenly loving this immortal man fiercely. He was likely going to be the most dangerous man she’d ever meet, but he was also one of the most caring. It was a dichotomy she knew she’d never be able to understand.
Phillip smiled, the natural coldness of his blue eyes lighting up. “I’m quite sure Bratsk will leave it all for me for when I get back.”
“I’m sure hir will.” Samara smiled, glad beyond words that her grandson had chosen Phillip to be his mate.
The ice mage held out his arm to her gallantly, and Samara looped her own through, leaning into his side and accepting the support he was offering. Together, the pair of them left the office, walking past Bratsk who didn’t say anything…but hir human lips were smiling.
And, if anyone stared at their stern Director escorting her through the building and looking pleased with himself, Samara paid them no mind.