30 January 5193 (Earth Standard Date)
Jack wanted to be doing something, but at the moment there wasn’t a lot he could do.
Later today, Rowena would finally be moved home. Gareth had signed off on it, even though he’d been a bit hesitant. Henry had been all for it, and Jocelyn and Abraham had backed him up, even going so far as to speaking to Anwyn about using her ship, Serpent’s Tooth, for the actual transfer from the Moon to Earth. Ships that size weren’t usually allowed to land in the valley, but this was a special occasion, and every single resident had agreed to let it happen since Rowena in dragon form wouldn’t fit in the usual shuttle, and they didn’t have a transmat large enough.
She would be escorted to one of the houses close by, one that her sisters had been fixing up for her and her family. It had been voted on that there would always be someone with Rowena, even though they were fairly safe in Ddraig Llyn.
Although, they’d all thought Hubworld was safe, too, and look what happened there…
Jack felt frantic over Lisa and Rhys, and he was very worried about his mother. Samara wasn’t getting any younger, and while she was in the best of health, losing her husband like that had to be wearing on her. Then, add to that Lisa being missing as well, and the immortal could understand why his mother was a wreck.
But, at least she had Daisy to take her mind off things.
When Phillip had gone to Stark’s World to follow Sabrina’s trail – taking Clint and Nicole with him, because neither one was about to let Phillip out of their sight anytime soon – Samara had volunteered to look after little Daisy. Skylar was also offworld, wrapping up his tour with the theatre group he was with so he could be free to take as much time off as he could, and it had left the family without a sitter for the baby except for Nathan, who had happily acceded his little sister to his grandmother.
Skylar was due back tomorrow with Alyce and Robyn, who’d gone along with their cousin to act as unofficial bodyguards. Jack felt somewhat better that they were all together, but couldn’t wait for them to arrive back home, and to relative safety.
Morgan was also gone, off with her band, Starshine, and James was with them. They had three more concerts to play, but then they, too, would be back home. Jack didn’t think anyone would try to strike against them, since there were just too many people surrounding the tour for just anyone to attempt anything, but Morgan didn’t have her dragon form yet which just added that little bit more worry onto Jack’s already burdened shoulders.
As did Pryce being offworld as well, taking care of her businesses. At least she had Oswyn along with her, to watch her back.
As long as any member of his family wasn’t nearby, he was going to fret.
At least, he wasn’t alone in that.
Ianto was just as worried. His mate was currently outside, flying, trying to take the edge off his nerves. Jack was concerned for him; the dragon hadn’t been eating, or sleeping well, and it was his hope that having most of the family home would get him back to an even keel. Jack could understand Ianto’s distress; he was feeling it himself. But he also knew that they needed to be strong, and if Ianto didn’t start taking care of himself – or let Jack take care of him – it would weaken him.
He’d never seen his mate like this, and it saddened him.
The TARDIS crew had arrived earlier, after dropping Uther Pendragon off at Stormcage pending trial. Phillip and Clint had gone back to Hubworld to check in with the testing being done on the tech they’d found at Persephone Corporation, but if the Doctor was right – and Jack didn’t doubt that he was – then that had been a doomsday weapon that, if it had worked, would have put HYDRA into a position of power. There would have been no telling what they would have done to it, although Jack had his suspicions.
The Doctor had also gone to Hubworld, River in tow, to help with the science part of things. Between the Time Lord, Jemma, Fitz, and Owen, certainly they would be able to find out something.
Cadi and Alun hadn’t checked in yet, but Jack knew they had to have arrived at Smuggler’s Moon by now. He chewed on his thumbnail as he stood at the large window that looked out over the lake that had given the valley its name, not really seeing anything as he tried to come up with their next step in discovering HYDRA. The main problem was they really didn’t know all that much. Uther wasn’t talking, despite both Arthur and Phillip pointing out to the man that HYDRA had betrayed him. Lucy hadn’t been all that forthcoming, either, but they had an ImpSec warning out to be on the lookout for Garrett Paxton, aka John Garrett, and his ship, the Typhon. There were also warnings out for Morgause, and Agravaine, but it was Garrett Jack thought they’d find first.
Now, it was a waiting game. Until they had more information, there wasn’t a lot they could do.
Even Steve and his specialised team had come up blank, which was worrying. It was as if HYDRA had completely gone to ground, and it was Jack’s hope that Cadi and Alun would come up with something they could use.
The longer they had to wait, the more likely it was that something would happen to Lisa and Rhys. And there was still the Dragon Slayer out there, waiting another opportunity to strike.
Jack turned. Emlyn was standing behind him, looking small and tired and so very far from the glamourous front she put on when out in public. “Hey, sweetheart.” He held out an arm in invitation.
She accepted it, and Jack tucked her against him, holding her and wishing he could take all this stress away.
As they both watched, Ianto’s dragon form soared out over the lake. Rory, red and gold scales flashing in the sunlight, followed his great-grandfather; he was accompanied by brown William, feathered Bronwyn, and dark blue Erik. Ianto’s scales didn’t seem as vibrant to Jack, which added even more worry to his already overfilled plate.
“Is Tad going to be alright?” Emlyn asked softly, as if she was somehow reading Jack’s mind.
He sighed. “He will, but it’s going to take some time.”
“It really has to be hard on him, because Sabrina had been named after Aunt Sabrina, and she’d also been killed the same way…”
That was something that Ianto had mentioned, late in the night, as they lay together in their nest on the uppermost floor of their home. “You’re right,” he admitted. “When Sabrina was born, your Tad had asked that we name her after his sister, as a way to remember her.” Jack had willingly agreed, just as Ianto had agreed to name one of their children Alyce, after Jack’s long-dead daughter. “Once we find the one who killed her, and hurt Rowena, your Tad will recover.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do.” She sounded so very confident, so Jack tightened his arm around her in silent thanks.
They were silent a few more minutes, and then Emlyn spoke again. “What about you, Dad? How are you doing?”
Jack opened his mouth to say he was fine, but changed his mind. Emlyn would know he was lying. He considered his words. “I’ve lost so many people, sweetheart, but this time…I carried Sabrina. When we heard, it felt like someone had carved a piece of my soul away. I’ll never get that back, no matter how many children we have. If something happened to you, I’d feel exactly the same way.”
Emlyn rested her head on his shoulder. “Then I’ll be careful and not die.”
“I’d appreciate that.” It was nice to hear her say that, but Jack knew, deep down, that he had a better chance of living for eternity than Ianto or any of their children or extended family…except for perhaps Henry. He was a true immortal, always coming back after dying, and it was a burden that Jack would always carry with him. Dragons were a form of immortal, but they could die, and one day something would happen and another child or grandchild would be taken from him, and he’d have to deal with the same pain.
Back in the beginning, when Jack had first realised he was immortal, he’d vowed never to get close to anyone he would only lose in the end. That vow had fallen by the wayside when he’d met a certain dragon, and he could never regret it.
The Doctor had once told him that, one day, Jack truly would die, and on that day the Last Dragon would die with him. He didn’t know if the Time Lord was just taken with a flight of romantic fancy, or if he knew something Jack didn’t, but it was a comforting thought even if he wasn’t going to count on it. Because, one day, the Earth would die, and any member of his family with a deep connection to the planet would be cut adrift to, one day, join their world in death. That would mean Ianto, and their adopted children.
The Star Dragons, the ones born of both Jack and Ianto, could conceivably carry on. They weren’t linked to the Earth the way true dragons were, so there was every chance they would be fine.
Thinking that had Jack considering Empress Danielle’s question, about the clan having their own planet. Honestly, he just couldn’t see it working, not without somehow severing the mystical connection that dragons had to the Earth. And then there were the Great Dragons, the very spirits of the planet, who wouldn’t be able to leave.
It was a nice dream. But the moment they’d learned that Ianto couldn’t stay more than six hundred years away from Earth it had become just that…a dream.
“Dad,” Kaitlyn’s voice interrupted his introspection.
Both Jack and Emlyn turned to regard his younger child. Kaitlyn looked excited about something. “What’s going on?”
“It’s Cadi and Alun,” she reported. “They’re calling from Smuggler’s Moon.”
Jack’s heart began to race. “Go and fetch your Tad,” he told Emlyn, knowing that she had her dragon form and was most likely able to catch the group of flyers up.
Emlyn nodded sharply then darted from the room, doing as Jack bid.
Jack himself strode into the lounge, where several other members of his family were seated, expressions expectant as the immortal used his wrist strap to loop the comm into the large vidscreen on the wall over the fireplace. Instantly, it flickered on, revealing Cadi and Alun in what looked like the cockpit of the Free Wheeler.
“Your Tad is on his way,” he greeted them. “Please tell me you have some news.”
“We have news,” Alun answered.
“We have a very credible lead,” Cadi added. She looked fierce, and Jack was so very glad to see his daughter back, instead of the quiet, withdrawn child who had sat in that very room on the day Sabrina was laid to rest.
Relief crashed through Jack at that pronouncement. Perhaps, once they had something to do, Ianto would let him take care of him. Jack had been feeling completely helpless, and this might be the break they’ve needed.
“I want to get Phillip in on the conversation,” he told his children. “He and Clint are on Hubworld at the moment. Let me get him in while we wait for your Tad.”
“I’ve got it, Grandfather,” Arthur said. He was already leaning over the comm control unit that had been placed on the coffee table, using his Torchwood codes to get a priority line to Hubworld. Merlin sat beside him, and Samara with little Daisy taking up the rest of the sofa.
In seconds, the screen split, and Phillip and Clint were visible in the second pane. Jack couldn’t help but notice just how tired his son-by-mating looked, and he knew from Clint himself that Phillip was also having trouble sleeping. Daisy made a gurgling, happy noise at seeing her Dads on the screen, waving her little legs around as if trying to reach out to them.
“We’ll be home soon, baby girl,” Clint crooned to her, wriggling his fingers at her.
“The Doctor and River are on the way up,” Phillip said. “I take it you found something?”
“We did,” Cadi confirmed. “We’re just waiting for Tad and the rest back home to show up before getting into details.”
“We’re here,” Ianto reported, practically stalking into the lounge, children trailing along behind him like a row of eager ducklings. There was an air of excitement accompanying them, and Jack hoped the news really was good.
“Go ahead, you two,” Jack ordered, inadvertently using his Captain Harkness voice.
Neither Cadi nor Alun seemed to mind. “It seems that Sabrina met with a privateer known only as H,” Cadi began. “We have digital evidence of the actual meeting.”
“I’ve heard of H,” Phillip said, frowning. “I can’t see Sabrina taking her word for anything.”
“Who is this H person?” Jack wanted to know.
“She and her partner, G, are two of the worst of a bad bunch,” Alun answered. “Drugs, guns…you name it, they’ve run it.”
“Apparently they’re not exactly liked on Smuggler’s Moon at the moment, either,” Cadi added. “We have it on excellent authority that H and G are on the outs with Orchrist Creed, the titular head of the Council of Captains. It was getting to the point where they weren’t going to be welcome anymore.”
That was bad. Jack knew that Smuggler’s Moon had their own rules, and if these two weren’t going by them then they were really bad news indeed.
“I can’t see Sabrina believing anything that H might tell her,” Phillip argued.
“She did because H claimed that the information came from Sakura,” Cadi said.
“Who’s Sakura?” Rory asked, confused.
“Sakura is arguably the best information broker in Undeclared Space,” Phillip answered. “No one knows who they are, or where they came from, only that they’ve only been in the business for three standard years and already have a reputation for thoroughness and relative honestly. Torchwood has acted on information relayed from Sakura before, and it was always accurate.”
At that moment, the Doctor and River appeared in the view from Phillip’s office. “Did we miss anything?” he asked, sounding almost breathless.
Clint repeated what Cadi had said, as Phillip turned his attention back to the comm meeting. “If H somehow convinced Sabrina that Sakura was behind the information, then I can certainly understand why she followed the trail.”
“This means that H and G are undeniably HYDRA,” Arthur added. “Or at least they were paid a very substantial sum to set the trap.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it was both,” Alun said.
“What else did you discover?” Ianto asked.
“We’re pretty certain we know where H and G have gone,” Cadi said. “Alun and I are going to follow the trail Sakura managed to find for us.”
That had Phillip sitting forward. “Sakura gave you this?”
“Yes. She’s not at all happy that H used her name to lead Sabrina into a trap.”
“She? That’s a little more than we knew about her before.”
“Wait a moment,” Ianto interrupted. “I know what you’ve said about this mysterious Sakura, but are we positive this information isn’t going to lead the two of you into another HYDRA trap?”
It was a fair question, one that Jack agreed with, and said so. He wasn’t about to let two more of his children walk into danger if he couldn’t help it.
Alun and Cadi glanced at one another. Then Cadi said, “Tad, Sakura said to tell you that Cherry Blossom said hello, and that you’d understand what that meant.”
That…sounded familiar to Jack, and it took Ianto going pale and clutching onto the back of the sofa for the memory to come back to him.
Jack felt a little faint as well.
“You know who Sakura is?” Phillip asked, worry slipping into his tone.
“Are you both okay?” Cadi wanted to know.
Jack looked over at this mate, meeting Ianto’s shocked eyes. He shook his head. “Phillip, you’ve met her. You just don’t know her by the name Sakura.”
Torchwood’s Director looked confused. Then his face cleared. “She’s a reincarnation?”
That had everyone’s attention. For it to be a reincarnation that only Jack and Ianto knew, it would have been one of their original team.
Jack’s heart swelled. Owen, Diane, Suzie…and now Toshiko Sato.
“You knew her as Toshiko Sato,” Ianto was saying even as Jack was thinking it.
Clint grinned like a madman; it took Phillip a couple of seconds to let the old memories fall back into his mind, judging from his expression. “Toshiko Sato is Sakura?” Phillip asked incredulously.
Ianto nodded. “Cherry Blossom is the name she used during that Year, back when she was leading the Resistance against the Master. Sakura is Ancient Earth Japanese for Cherry Blossom.”
“But why hasn’t she come home?” Jack asked plaintively. The three of them had been particularly close; Ianto had thought of Toshiko as his sister, and he’d been heartbroken when she’d finally died. Yes, he could understand why Owen, Diane, and Suzie hadn’t come forward, but Toshiko…
“She might have been waiting,” Cadi answered.
“But why?” Ianto echoed Jack’s complaint.
“Because she’s about ten standard years old at the moment,” Alun stated.
Alright, Jack could understand that, in a way. This version of Toshiko would have family, and every single reincarnation that had arrived back into their lives – with the exception of Suzie, Owen, and Diane, and they had their own set of reasons – had waited until they were old enough to be out on their own, so as not to upset anyone they had back at home. Plus, it was too hard to explain to family that you were someone different from what loved ones assumed…unless they were the parents of Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz, who welcomed the idea of reincarnations with open arms and scientific papers.
Phillip’s eyes got wide. “Are you telling us that Sakura is not only the reincarnation of one of the smartest and most competent women I’ve ever known, but she’s also a child?”
“Oh, that is awesome,” Clint enthused. “Trust the reincarnation of Tosh to be even smarter now than she was back on the old team.”
“Her memories must be fully integrated,” the Doctor said. Jack knew that, while this regeneration hadn’t known Toshiko, his last one had been aware of her during that Year, and had met her for a short while on the Valiant after the paradox had ended. He’d also seen her during that mess with the Daleks stealing the Earth, but that had been a very fleeting thing.
“Bring her home, Cadi…Alun,” Ianto ordered. “Bring her home. Tell her she needs to come back to her family, and any biological family she has there bring them as well.”
“We will, Tad,” Cadi vowed. “When we leave, she’ll be with us.”
Jack couldn’t help but smile. They would do as Ianto asked, and Toshiko would be back amongst them once more. And she was a child, which was inconceivable to him, living on Smuggler’s Moon and running an information network that even Torchwood could count on.
That was his amazing Toshiko, so very brilliant.
“You’re not going after H and G alone,” Phillip proclaimed. “We can meet you somewhere along the route.”
“Phillip’s right,” Jack said. “We have no idea what you’re going to be walking into. We’ll come up with a team and we’ll meet up.”
Alun looked slightly relieved, and Cadi nodded. “If what Sakura was able to discover was accurate, then H and G were heading to Trafusis. It’s not on the transmat network, but Dahlnia Prime is. We should be there in three days, and we can pick up whoever you decide to send.”
“Sounds good,” Jack agreed. “We’ll see you then.”
Jack could only hope that this was a step in the right direction.
And now, they had one of their own back, even if it was under such unusual circumstances.