Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen [Jack/Ianto and Owen/Ianto]
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 064. Fall
Copyright: An REM song. I think you’ll figure out which.
Warnings: Apocalypse!fic in which everyone dies. It’s really traumatic.
Summary: Europe is dying. But Jack refuses to let his team go.
Author’s Notes: I thought of how to break this up, then I had to write it. But I sort of wish I hadn’t. It depressed the hell out of me. This is dark, and slightly scary. I am seriously telling you not to read this if you’re easily depressed.
One. It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)
The entire UK is on fire or keeling over in the streets or screaming for help in an increasingly desperate and hopeless fashion. America won’t, or can’t, get involved. The rest of Europe is in the same boat. And as power and communications fail it’s impossible to tell whether help is coming from anywhere else.
But Jack isn’t dying. And the Hub is quiet.
Their Captain’s face is flushed and more handsome than ever. His eyes look more blue, and they sparkle. His teeth are blinding to look at and his charismatic presence fills a room, spilling out through the crack under the door. The world is splitting apart and he’s never been healthier. In some ways, it’s comforting. In a lot of other ways, it’s deeply unnerving.
“Sir.” Ianto wraps his fingers around the doorframe to keep himself upright. His hands are shaking. Jack is seated at his desk, the lamp glowing off his flawless skin. There’s a record playing on Jack’s old-fashioned turntable that he keeps in the corner. The thunk of a double bass, a saxophone, delicate twists of a piano, a woman’s dry, plaintive voice tying it all together. It’s on too quietly for Ianto to make out the words, but he thinks that a lifetime ago he knew what the song was called. “Sir,” he says again.
Jack looks up, and his smile falters a little when he sees Ianto.
“Go and make me a cup of coffee,” he orders, something deliberate in his tone. Ianto wants to whisper I can’t, sir, but it’s hard to say ‘no’ to Jack, so he concentrates hard enough to turn around and walk away.
As he pours out a mug of strong black coffee, Ianto tries to remember being in love with Jack, so madly in love that it hurt. But that thought is so complicated that it makes his head ache. Jack’s just Jack, the dangerous and enigmatic tragic hero, who seems to look more healthy the sicker Ianto feels, and he can’t even recall the last time they kissed and whether it matters at all any more.
Two. It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel)
The computer screen on Owen’s workstation is screaming blood and bodies with the latest news report. Owen leans over and turns it off, leaving an awful silence. Tosh lets out a little sound that might be a half-sob before reigning it all in and turning her attention to the small black box on her desk, covered in bright blue alien lettering that she is painstakingly translating. They think the thing amounts to little more than an alien gameboy, and there doesn’t seem much point any more, but these things should be done properly. Owen watches her for a moment, something that’s a cross between concern and fear on his face, before turning his attention to the papers on his own desk. Or, more specifically, the newspaper crossword spread out in front of him. The paper is two weeks and three days old, but it’s the last one they have, so Owen fills it in, one clue each day. “And if I’m still alive to finish it…” he always begins, but he can’t finish.
Ianto carries a tray with tall glasses of water on it, and begins to hand them out. The water tastes more than a little strange, these days, but it’s vital that they remain hydrated. Tosh sips at hers distractedly, while Owen downs his in one. Ianto walks across to where Gwen is asleep on the sofa. She is pale, and her face is hollow and gaunt. He places her water beside her, and then is gripped by a horrible fear. Ianto grabs her by the shoulders and shakes.
“What?” Gwen wakes up, panicked, eyes wide.
“Sorry,” Ianto mumbles, “When you’re asleep, you look…”
Gwen nods. She knows.
Three. It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I)
It is late, but Ianto hasn’t seen daylight in nearly three weeks, so day and night don’t really mean anything now, they’re just tired little words. Ianto feels cold, but he turned the heating up himself, so he knows that the shivers running through him are just a sign of yet more nerve damage. Jack is in his shirtsleeves, pacing, but then Jack is positively glowing with health, so Ianto cannot judge the Hub’s temperature by him.
Gwen looks tired. She has her head resting on Tosh’s shoulder, and the other woman is running a trembling hand through her hair. There’s a worn, exhausted hush in the Hub’s slightly dusty air; Owen is surfing the internet and what remains of the news sites.
“Jack,” he says suddenly. Their leader turns to look at him. “The Prime Minister died about half an hour ago.”
Ianto shuts his eyes, listening to the horrified lack of response. There’s anarchy enough in Britain, and it can only get worse now that the government’s shattered and no one’s in any fit state to organise a general election.
“Well then,” Jack says softly, “I guess we’re on our own.”
He walks back to his office, and Ianto hears him put on that record again, the worn-out singer sounding lonelier than ever. He shudders. Jack is wrong. He is the only one on his own. The rest of them are fading out, and Jack’s determination can’t keep them alive forever.
Four. It’s the end of the world as we know it (and)
One Thursday, Ianto can barely walk. His legs are weak and tired and don’t seem to know how to hold his weight. He staggers through the Hub, clinging to workstations to help keep himself upright, like he’s drunk. But even Owen doesn’t make a joke about inappropriate substance abuse in the workplace, and Tosh takes it upon herself to hand out the water every hour. Jack won’t come out of his office, hunting through the safes and filing cabinets, obviously looking for something he thinks is important.
Ianto just lies on the sofa, and later on the floor when Owen wants the sofa, and listens to his nerves singing with pins and needles and wonders how long they can all keep pretending that everything will turn out fine. Locked in the Hub because it keeps them safe from the riots and madness and further exposure outside. But it doesn’t protect them from the disease ravaging the rest of Europe, and maybe the rest of the world. They were the first to be exposed, and staying down here only prolongs their lives; it won’t save them.
However, Ianto knows that however bad he and Owen feel, Gwen must feel worse. She hasn’t got out of her bed all day. Mid-afternoon, Jack goes downstairs to hold her hand, and, Owen remarks, probably to bully her into recovery. Sure enough, an hour later, she walks upstairs, draped over Jack like a rag doll, stumbling on every other step, dark circles under her eyes. But at least she’s upright. Jack won’t let any of them fail.
Tosh shakes Ianto forcibly awake a while later.
“When you’re asleep, I can’t see you breathing,” she tells him. Ianto smiles apologetically, and reaches for his glass of water.
Five. It’s the end of the world as we know it
Myfanwy falls mid-flight. She crashes down, dead before she hits the ground, landing in a crumpled heap beside the water tower. Tosh screams. Gwen bursts into helpless sobs. Ianto staggers back, aghast. Jack looks at the body of their pterodactyl and then yells for Owen. There must be an autopsy. They must know why (Ianto thinks that he knows why, but he won’t tell Jack this; it might look like he’s giving up, and Jack does not tolerate people who give up easily).
So he goes down into the autopsy room to fetch the scalpels and so on that Owen will need. He is there when Owen comes in, and then slips and tumbles down the stairs, and Ianto moves to catch their doctor at the bottom and pull him to his feet.
“I can’t, Ianto,” Owen whispers, his voice breaking, “I can’t.”
Ianto is holding onto him so hard that he knows Owen will have long, finger-shaped bruises on his upper arms when he lets go. He remembers holding Owen like this a lifetime ago for an entirely different reason. The bullet wound not even healed on Owen’s shoulder, his teeth on Ianto’s neck, biting and swearing and Ianto remembers the feelings of Owen’s ribs under his thumbs, the salty taste of his skin. He steps back, startled by his memories, but he’s still close enough to count the cracks in Owen’s lips and see the desperation in his dark, hollow eyes.
“I can’t,” he repeats.
“I was exposed before you,” Ianto remind him, a forcible edge to his voice that he doesn’t really feel, “And I am still walking around and making coffee and filing the archives. You are doing this fucking autopsy.”
Owen lets out a shuddery breath, and manages to stand up a little straighter.
“Ok,” he says.
Six. It’s the end of the world as we know
Although Jack is positively blooming with health, and he’s almost unreasonably immortal, he needs to sleep for a couple of hours a week. They wait for him to slip into slumber, then huddle in the autopsy room with mugs of hot tea, and whisper. They all know the truth that Jack will not acknowledge.
“What were Myfanwy’s autopsy results?” Ianto asks. Owen shakes his head, and Ianto takes that to mean that they don’t want to know. He thinks about insisting, but maybe there are some things that it’s easier not to find out. There’s a pause, and then Tosh glances over her shoulder as though she’s afraid of Jack walking in.
“How do you feel?” she asks.
“I’m throwing up every hour,” Owen says. He looks pale, and more skeletal than ever. “And some days I can’t feel my legs.”
“I can’t see out of my left eye,” Gwen mumbles quietly. She’s crumpled against the wall, looking barely alive. The rest of them are dying in stops and starts. Gwen is just plain dying. Tosh, Ianto and Owen exchange terrified looks. Gwen speaks up again, although her voice is barely audible.
“What about you, Ianto?”
“I’m fine,” he replies, lying through his teeth, or maybe not – if he doesn’t think about it then maybe it won’t be true.
“Stop joining in with Jack’s selfish bullshit,” Owen hisses. “You are not fine, you are dying of an incurable alien disease.”
“I’m fine,” Ianto repeats. Tosh gives him a hurt look but Gwen has her eyes closed and Owen won’t even look at him.
“What Jack is doing is unbelievably selfish,” Owen snarls, “And you do not have to play along.”
Ianto says nothing. The rest of them are more pragmatic, but he’s afraid to die.
Seven. It’s the end of the world as we
“Dance with me,” Jack says. There’s Glenn Miller playing on the record player and he looks more bright and alive than ever. His smile sparkles and Ianto feels small and cold and childlike beside him.
“Sir?” Ianto is tired, even his bones ache, and he can’t work out what’s keeping him upright except perhaps for sheer force of will. The day has been spent filing in the cool, half-dark archives with Tosh’s help, the two of them coughing so loud it echoed around the empty corridors. Jack smiles gently, and takes Ianto’s hand. If he’s shocked at how cold and trembling Ianto is, he doesn’t say it. Ianto closes his eyes and leans his head on Jack’s shoulder, partially just to stop himself from collapsing, and revels in the heat that radiates through Jack’s shoulder. Jack is so strong that it’s impossible not to be in awe of the aura of safety around him. Ianto thinks there’s probably something important or maybe slightly Roman about dancing while the world ends, but he tries to focus on nothing but Jack and the thought goes.
It’s a slow dance, so slow. Jack murmurs, lips against Ianto’s hair, you’re going to be all right, you’re going to be all right. Ianto isn’t, but he appreciates the sentiment.
When they return to the main Hub, Gwen is half-asleep over a mug of tea. She’s hiding the partial blindness well from Jack, and it occurs to Ianto that it’s quite sick, the way they suffer in silence in order to keep Jack from finding out just how ill they all are.
“I’m going to bed,” Gwen says. Jack and Tosh go with her. Ianto goes to sit beside Owen, who is brooding.
“This is going to end so damn badly,” Owen observes quietly. When Ianto frowns, he adds, “Do you want to be stuck down here with him when one of us finally dies?”
“No one’s going to die,” Ianto tells him. It sounds unbearably hollow, and Owen just laughs.
Eight. It’s the end of the world as
Three days later, Gwen doesn’t wake up when Ianto goes down to check on her. Her skin is cold and she feels tiny in his arms as he carries her up to the morgue. Tosh can’t stop crying and Owen’s legs give out under him but the look on Jack’s face is worse. The silence is terrifying and Ianto has to run away to throw up blood-streaked bile for a while. When he finally returns, shaking from the strain, Tosh has signed the death certificate and sorted out the paperwork, zipped up the body bag and closed the drawer. Now she’s sitting against the wall, staring into space, while Owen and Jack argue, voices echoing too loud.
“She was blind!” Owen screams, face all twisted, “And she was in pain, and she didn’t say a fucking word because she didn’t want to hurt your feelings!”
“She didn’t fight hard enough!” Jack shouts back, and Ianto can’t believe he’s hearing this.
“How could she fight?” Owen yells. “We are all dying, there is no cure, and you can’t save us by wishing! Can’t you fucking get that? You’re so selfish, Jack Harkness, forcing your stupid delusion onto us, selfish selfish selfish!”
Jack looks hurt and suddenly, impossibly old. Ianto wants to comfort him but he can see Owen’s point of view, and Tosh isn’t saying anything, tears streaming silently down her cheeks. Ianto thinks about walking into the fight and fixing it, but instead he wraps his arms around Tosh and doesn’t say anything at all.
“Are you scared?” she asks, an eternity later, when Owen is smashing things in the autopsy room and Jack is nowhere to be found.
“Yes,” Ianto replies. “I’m scared.”
“Thank God,” Tosh murmurs into his chest, “I’m so sick of being noble.”
Nine. It’s the end of the world
When Ianto opens his eyes he can hear a high-pitched, slightly irregular beeping that he quickly comes to realise corresponds with his heartbeat. There’s a drip in his arm and a relieved-looking Jack comes into focus. Ianto has no idea what he has to be relieved about.
“Am I dead?” he asks creakily, because he feels horrible. Gwen’s been gone four days, six hours, and the tensions in their claustrophobic prison have been rising unbearably.
“Not yet,” Owen tells him. Ianto becomes aware that Tosh is clinging onto his hand. “You had a bloody good try, though.”
“Ah.” His mouth tastes like blood and there seems to be quite a lot of it on his open shirt. He doesn’t remember getting here or why he’d need to be hooked up to machines of various kinds. It’s quiet, except for the sound of his heartbeat, which isn’t nearly as steady as it should be.
“Come on,” Jack says, an edge to his voice, “Let’s get you sitting up.”
They heave Ianto upright, and he clenches his fingers on the metal edge of the autopsy table as the room spins. The lights are too bright and there are little wires taped to his chest, which prickle uncomfortably.
“What happened?” he asks. Tosh suddenly starts avoiding his eye, Owen focuses on the monitors, although he’s clinging to the table to keep himself from falling down, and Jack’s face becomes an impassive mask.
“I’m glad you’re ok,” Tosh tells him tentatively, a half-smile on her haggard face, and Ianto manages a smile back.
That evening, when Ianto is feeling much less weak and has changed his shirt, he’s sitting at Tosh’s workstation and watching the security cameras on the computer, the burnt-out shell that used to be the Millennium Centre, bodies on the pavement. A man and a woman are shouting at each other, although he can’t make out the words. The man is sobbing and the woman looks barely alive, painfully skinny in a pair of low-rise jeans and a FCUK t-shirt. Suddenly, without warning, the woman starts coughing, coughing, coughing, and blood pours out of her mouth, staining her clothes, and she falls. The man is on his knees beside her a second later, clinging to her as she bleeds out. It doesn’t take long before she’s still.
Ianto turns off the monitor, shaking, and remembers binning his own blood-stained shirt, and Tosh’s haunted expression.
Ten. It’s the end of the
“Was it supposed to end like this?” Ianto murmurs. He’s up in the briefing room with Jack, the two of them watching Owen and Tosh play monopoly down below, “You know this stuff Jack, was it supposed to end like this?”
“Don’t ask me that,” Jack replies softly, “Please, Ianto, don’t ask me that.”
“Do you know, though?”
Ianto wants to ask him more but Jack, although he looks brighter and better than Ianto has ever seen him, hair wild in an adorably rakish sort of way and skin exuding health, has a damaged, haunted edge that he hasn’t been able to shake since Gwen died over a week ago. Ianto can’t blame him. He always suspected Jack liked Gwen better than he liked the rest of them, although in these brief moments of peace and quiet he wonders if maybe Jack loves him best. And then he thinks he’s just being sentimental.
“I’m sorry,” Jack says tiredly. Ianto frowns.
“This isn’t your fault,” he tells him, “I mean, what you’re doing, trying to keep us going as long as you can- we should be thanking you.”
“Don’t thank me,” Jack murmurs, something haunted on his face that Ianto doesn’t understand.
“This isn’t your fault,” Ianto repeats. Jack smiles, but he can’t meet Ianto’s eye, and he doesn’t speak again. Ianto watches his profile for a while, then goes down to stop Owen cheating.
Eleven. It’s the end of
They’ve started sleeping in the downstairs levels, hanging around the now-empty cells. Early afternoon, Ianto realises that he hasn’t seen Owen in a couple of hours, which is worrying, so he goes to search for him. It takes a while and when he does finally track him down, for a horrible moment he thinks Owen’s died. He’s sprawled out on the floor, skin chalk white, lips dark and bruised-looking against his pale face. But those eyelids flutter, and Ianto is beside him in a second.
“Owen, wake up,” he orders, shaking their doctor’s shoulder insistently. Owen’s eyes open slowly, and he frowns.
“Be a good teaboy and sod off, would you Ianto?” he asks. The words are calculated to sting and they do, but Ianto ignores it. “I’m busy here trying to die.”
“I knew I could count on you to deal with this in a mature fashion,” Ianto mumbles, pulling Owen to his feet. “You’re not going to die.”
Owen laughs, lips curling back over his teeth, it makes him look skeletal and Ianto looks around the small room to see, next to the wall, a neat row of plastic water bottles. Each one is full.
“You fucking idiot,” he hisses, “You know how important it is to stay hydrated!”
“What’s the point?” Owen snaps back. “It’s prolonging the agony, for what, another week? I don’t want to deal with this any more.”
“Always taking the coward’s way out,” Ianto says contemptuously, he knows he’s being cruel, but Owen is scaring the hell out of him. He starts to drag him over to where the water is, determined to half-drown Owen if it gets him hydrated, but Owen resists, wiry strength winning out again. They push at each other for a moment, it’s a ridiculous parody of a fight because they both ache too much and they’re too weak and Owen slams Ianto into the wall with just enough force for Ianto to feel himself bruise and, as it always does, their fight segues into a kiss.
It’s a damn beautiful kiss; fatalistic and desperate and Ianto thinks for a moment that maybe they could go out in a perfect blaze of glory; but Owen is shaking and Ianto isn’t much better so instead he supports Owen onto the nearest sofa and sits there, Owen’s head in his lap, stroking his hand through Owen’s stupidly short hair.
“You can’t die,” Ianto attempts, when Owen’s not trembling so hard and is merely lying, breathing quietly, “You haven’t finished the crossword.”
“Last word’s ‘palomino’,” Owen tells him. “And I’ll bloody well die if I want to.”
There’s no arguing with that, so Ianto just sits and strokes Owen’s hair and notices, suddenly, that Owen’s ripped a hole in the white sleeve of his shirt. This is so unexpected that he just sits and stares at the tear, half hypnotised, and when he next looks at Owen, he’s perfectly still.
Twelve. It’s the end
Tosh is quiet, head over the sink as she combs conditioner through her wet hair. Ianto sits on a chair, just watching, because six days and he’s still a little in shock. He thinks Tosh might still be in shock too, but he doesn’t ask. Just sits. Watches the movement of the comb through her dark, dark hair and almost asks why she’s bothering to do this, but then he still obediently wears a three-piece suit and uncomfortable shoes every single day, so it’s not an entirely alien concept.
Jack is somewhere they’re not, brooding. Ianto doesn’t know why he has the right to be brooding, not properly, since he was the one who was kissing Owen and then ten minutes later the guy was dead in his lap. But then Jack is their boss, and has certainly seen enough shit to earn the right to brood.
It doesn’t surprise Ianto that he and Tosh are the last ones left; it makes sense in some strange, twisted logical way. The two who always kept quiet and in the shadows are the ones surviving. They don’t talk much, can’t look each other in the eye, sleep side by side in a single bed, pressed together in fear and the desperation for comfort.
Tosh straightens up, drying her hair with a towel, a brave little shaking smile on her mouth. Ianto breaks, just looking at her.
“Remind me why we go on living,” she says, utterly sensible, even with beads of water sliding down the sides of her face and her hands quivering so much she can barely cling onto the towel.
“Because we’re human,” Ianto replies, after a moment’s thought.
Tosh smiles narrowly and awkwardly.
“Sometimes I wonder if we still are,” she says.
Thirteen. It’s the
Ianto stands at Jack’s desk and straightens paperwork, because he’s going to straighten paperwork until he dies; it was in the job description. Lots of things that he does aren’t in Ianto’s job description, but filing and organising until the papers fall from his suddenly-cold fingers was there in black and white the day he signed the contract.
Jack tells him to stop. Ianto doesn’t know how to.
Tosh is humming at her workstation, the sound travels, it’s a curiously sweet – although also heartbreaking – sound. Ianto feels the corner of his mouth curl into a smile; he wants Tosh to be happy. Or at least whatever counts for happiness when you have weeks left to live and have to live in a cold concrete underground shell, filled with the bodies of your dead co-workers, a receptionist not really given to speaking, and a scary immortal determined to keep you with him, whatever the cost.
“Ianto-” Jack begins.
“You can’t understand,” Ianto tells him, firmly, “Because although you’ve died lots and lots and lots of times, it’s never stuck. You have the pain but not the fear. So I don’t want to talk to you because it’s not going to make me feel any better.”
Jack’s smile is rueful.
Ianto walks out of Jack’s office, listening to Jack put on his record player, the crackling of vinyl followed by depressingly haunting jazz. Just for once, Ianto wishes that Jack had a liking for punk or rock or anything that doesn’t sting when he plays it.
Tosh turns to smile at Ianto. Her workstation is tidy, her dark hair pulled back; she looks almost healthy, almost happy. Ianto walks over, intending to offer her a coffee, and she opens her mouth to say something.
Two days, one hour and seventeen minutes since Tosh died, and Ianto is sitting feeling a little hopeless and staring up at the ceiling. It’s ridiculous to feel claustrophobic in a place as large as this. But everything he had is gone and he hasn’t seen sunlight in so long that the memory of it is fading out.
“Come on,” Jack says, holding out a hand. And Ianto takes it and follows him, as he knew he always would.
The streets of Cardiff are quiet and bathed in watery sunlight. The silence is unnerving; there are no cars, no people, no industrial sounds of a city. Just the waves moving in the Bay and the wind whipping through the empty, burned-out buildings and the bodies on the ground. Ianto knows, when people first started getting sick, there were riots. Because that’s what the human race does. It destroys, because it’s frightened. But the riots have stopped now and it’s eerily silent, and Ianto clings onto Jack’s hand because being out in the world again after over a month of the Hub is more than he can take.
“I thought maybe I could keep you safe,” Jack says. “Keep you all exposed as little as possible, away from the madness.”
“You can’t cure this disease,” Ianto replies vaguely, “You bought us time but we all go in the end. Even me.”
“You’re strong, Ianto.”
“And it isn’t enough.” Ianto laughs. “I’m strong, but Gwen was stronger, Owen was stronger, Tosh was stronger. And they’re all- they’re all-” Ianto wrenches his hand from Jack’s grasp and presses it against his mouth, trying to stop the panic attack in its tracks.
Ianto Jones sinks to the ground in the streets of the hollow wreck of a city that used to be Cardiff and now no longer matters, and for the first time bursts into tears. He cries and cries and cries until his chest hurts and he starts to feel weak and dizzy. Jack picks him up and carries him back to the Hub, and Ianto tilts his head back and feels the weak sunlight on his face and tries to think in nothing but shades of white.
“You’re not dying,” Jack insists. Ianto laughs.
“You’re delusional,” he responds, clenching his fists in Jack’s coat. He’s shaking on the floor, like he’s having a fit, Jack’s half cradling him, half shaking him, face all twisted up with agony. He looks genuinely upset. It’s distracting and a bit unsettling.
“You can fight this,” Jack insists.
“I’m suffocating,” Ianto responds, “It’s pretty hard to make it not be happening.”
Jack kisses him, but Ianto can taste that he just wants him to survive, and he tries to push Jack away because he doesn’t want his last kiss to be a kiss of life, he wants it to mean something because he did love Jack once, if only for a fortnight. Maybe Jack realises this and he pulls back, stroking a hand through Ianto’s hair.
Ianto looks at him for a long, long moment, wondering if there’s an afterlife and if he’ll meet Lisa there, and if he does, how on earth he’s going to explain Jack and Owen and all those complicated little spaces between to her. He swallows, and the world goes white, he can’t see properly, but that doesn’t matter, because he thinks Jack might be crying and he doesn’t, he doesn’t want to see.
“You can’t die,” Jack says in a hopeless sort of voice, “You haven’t even told me your coffee secret yet.”
Ianto bursts out laughing and then starts coughing.
“Jack,” he whispers, and feels his boss, his lover, his what the hell ever, lean closer, ear next to Ianto’s lips, “Jack…”
“Go to hell.”
They both start laughing and Ianto thinks that although this doesn’t exactly constitute going out on a high, there are far worse ways to go.
His name wasn’t Jack Harkness when he joined the Special Ops branch of the Time Agency. His name still isn’t Jack Harkness, but he’s got rather attached to it over the last century or so. Jack zips up Ianto’s bodybag and fills out the paperwork because he feels Ianto would like that; signing his name and reducing Ianto to a biro pen signature on a dotted line.
It was several lifetimes ago that the Time Agency gave him a mission and told him it was important; vital, in fact. The Special Ops branches of the Time Agency saw to it – see to it, he supposes – that the right things happen at the right times. That history stays the way it’s supposed to. And it’s important that half the Earth dies out in 2010, because those surviving will try harder to create practical space travel, and then they will spread out across the universe. Prosper. Evolve.
Jack knows this but it still hurts, as he turns off all the power in the Hub and leaves the bodies of his teammates, his friends, in the dark.
The Time Agency gave him a spaceship, and a pod to jettison from it. A pod containing enough of a dangerous virus that no one could survive. There was no way he could have known, no way at all. He knew he was damning billions of people to death, but he didn’t know, then, that he’d also be down on the ground, watching those he loved die. Jack looks around at the destruction, and knows that he caused it. It had to happen, but he caused it, back in the days when it was enough just to obey the Time Agency’s every word. This had to happen. A necessary evil. An inevitable fate.
Jack goes out into the quiet streets of Cardiff, coat billowing behind him, and walks into the sunrise without looking back.