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Round one - challenge four story post

Round 1-4 story post.
Prompts were: Out of Time and flower(s).

Okay this is the story post, please don't post your votes in the comments to this post. The voting post is here: http://torchwood-las.livejournal.com/8120.html


Title The End Of The Line
Word Count 691
Rating PG-13
Warnings None.

Captain John Hart had never expected to end like this: drowning in a corridor of an underground base with the current lover of his ex-boyfriend, holding on to a lighting fixture to avoid sinking under the water, and with said ex-boyfriend not making much progress in rescuing them …

He shifted his hold around Ianto to pull him higher against his chest. Ianto groaned in pain. ”Don't.”

”I'll just let you drown then.” He tried to ignore the fact that some of the water around them was stained red. A chunk of wall had caught Ianto right beneath his ribs during the explosion. With a bit of luck, he would soon lose consciousness from blood loss and skip the whole drowning business. John envied him that.

Ianto coughed weakly. ”This is your fault.”

John couldn't exactly deny that. ”How was I to know that you're irresponsible enough to keep loaded grenades down here?”

”Says the guy who thought playing catch with a grenade would be fun.”

”You should have caught it!”

”My back was turned!” Ianto coughed again and his head sank down on John's shoulder. ”Couldn't see you throwing it.”

”Who installs safety doors that lock in people anyway?”

While they'd talked, the water had risen further, lapping at John's chest now. He activated the comm link he'd taken from Ianto. ”I don't mean to rush you, but we're kind of drowning here.”

Jack's tense voice filtered through. ”Owen and Tosh are trying to install a shield to fix the wall. As soon as they're done and the sensors don't register new water coming in from the Bay, we can open the door.”

”Take your time, why don't you?”

”How's Ianto?”

”Holding on.” There wasn't anything else to say, really, but the silence got to John. He didn't like it and always felt the need to fill it, no matter how. ”If we don't make it, promise me you'll cry at my funeral. I want them to play I will survive … and no flowers!”

”Yes,” Jack said drily and John knew that he was just playing along, ”because Gloria Gaynor's fine, flowers on the other hand: that would be tacky.”

John chuckled.

”Hand me over to Ianto, will you?”

John rolled his eyes. He shrugged to catch Ianto's attention. ”Jack wants to talk to you.”

Ianto didn't react.

John shook him again, a bit harder. ”Eye Candy.” He turned Ianto to face him. His eyes were closed. ”Ianto!” John held his hand against Ianto's mouth – still breathing.

“John?” Jack asked anxiously.

”He's …,” he began and then paused, unsure how to say it. Finally, he settled on, ”He's not dead … the blood loss must have got to him.”

Jack let out a breath and John could see him in his mind's eye, pacing back and forth, trying to remain calm. ”Okay.”

It was quiet for a minute and John assumed that Jack had muted the comm link to talk to the team alone. When he came back on again, John had put one hand over Ianto's mouth and nose, ready to cut off his breathing when the water rose high enough. He would be able to buy Ianto a minute or two by sharing his own air. Sometimes, a minute or two was all you needed.

”John, Owen and Tosh have one last option left to try to get the shield to work. It's that or ...” Jack paused.

”Or nothing.” John nodded. “Understood.”

”See you soon.”

”I hope so,” John replied and threw the comm link into the water. He didn't want to risk hearing Jack telling him that he was sorry, that they couldn't help … he wanted to hold onto Jack's last words. He looked at Ianto. ”Okay, Gorgeous, let's do this.”

He took a deep breath and then the water stole the last bit of air they had left … and hope and Ianto were all John could hold on to.


Title Lost at Sea
Word Count 687
Rating PG
Warnings None

“There’s no time,” Jack shouts, competing for volume over the pelting rain and hail. He doubles over in pain — his stomach feels as if it’s being wrenched in two. The ship pitches wildly.
They’ve been pursued. Gunshots. One had grazed his side, but he’d be okay, if they could just—
“Use it!” In the young woman’s eyes he sees determination, fear. “Jeannie, the rift key! Now!”
Jack opens his eyes; he’s clutching a bouquet of flowers. They’re wet, and when he smells them, he smells the sea. The twinge of pain in his stomach is gone by the time he stands. The wind whips around his shoulders, and dark clouds stretch over the city — the last remnants of a storm.
“If I use this—”
“Trust me, it’s the only way. You have to use the key. This isn’t supposed to happen, and you’re the only one who can fix it.”
“But if I use this, I’ll disappear, right?”
“From this timeline, yes. But you’ll return to where you’re meant to be. Trust me,” Jack says, closing his eyes. “It’s better this way.”
“But what about all this? This adventure of ours?”
She leans forward and kisses him, clutching at the collar of his coat with her fingers. She can’t be more than twenty years old.  He moves her hands away gently, and watches her cheeks flush.
“Thank you, Captain,” she says, pressing a handful of flowers to his chest. She’d been picking them on the cliff when he arrived.

Already, he hardly remembers her face. The timeline has collapsed, after all, taking his memories with it. The details are fading — the energy disturbance, how he’d known to bring the rift manipulator from the archives, the storm, the ship, the army at their heels, with enough power to destroy Cardiff. And they wouldn’t have stopped there.
It had been risky, past spilling over into present, and more than that —an alternate past, one that never should have been.
He’d come alone, and if it hadn’t been for the girl, he wonders if he would have been able to stop it. She said she loved the city more than anything, and together, they’d protected it. They’d righted what the rift threatened to ruin. She wanted to be remembered, and Jack had wanted to give her that much, at least.
But in the end, he’d chosen this.
He looks up at the Millennium Centre, rising wide and bright against the darkened sky.  He starts for the boardwalk and makes it all the way down to the church before he turns back.  The rain holds off, but it’s hard to tell if the thunder is getting closer or further away.
When he opens the door to the Tourist Information Centre, Ianto looks up from his desk.
“Sir,” he says, looking relieved to see him. “Gwen said you’d gone to check out a spike in rift energy outside Penarth.”
Jack nods. “Yeah,” he says, the details dim now, a faded still-frame — a girl by the sea, a ship, a storm.  
Ianto watches him quietly, waiting. Jack wonders how long he’s been gone. A deep rumble of thunder rattles the windows.
“Find anything?” Ianto finally asks.  
“Nothing,” Jack says. The word sounds strange, wrong somehow.  “Must’ve been a glitch in the system.”
He lays the bouquet of flowers down on the desk as Ianto stands to take his coat. Their hands brush together for a moment under the rough folds of fabric, and Jack watches the tension in Ianto’s expression soften. He must have been gone much longer than he’d realized. He’ll have to make up for making him worry like this.
Ianto glances at Jack curiously, then raises his eyebrows at the flowers.  
“Are these for me, sir,” he says, with a note of amusement. “You shouldn’t have.”
Jack stares at the flowers for a moment, and it feels strange, like trying to remember a dream after he’s been awake for too long. Where had they come from?
Outside the sky is clearing; thunder rumbling out over the bay, another storm lost at sea.
 “…of course they’re for you, Ianto.”


Title Ending
Word Count 700
Rating G
Warnings None

‘Who bought all the flowers?’ Jack asks by way of greeting as he slips into the room.

Gwen grins at him. She always greets him with a grin these days, he thinks fondly. There was a time when she would meet him with excited hugs, with shouting if he’d stayed away too long, with slaps and shoves if he’d missed some essential event – Anwen’s graduation had been a particular sticking point. And once, when things were bad with Rhys, she’d greeted him by pushing him against the back of the door, pressing herself into him and kissing him in a way that verged on violent, before wrenching herself away just as quickly, with wild eyes and a hand over her mouth. 

But those days are gone. She has grown accustomed to his comings and goings, and if it bothers her now she doesn’t show it. She just grins.

‘Rhys bought them,’ she says, glancing around at the pink roses, white lilies and yellow carnations that brighten the small room. 

Jack moves closer, takes her hand in his gently. 

‘All these years and he still doesn’t know you don’t like them?’ he asks, remembering when she’d grumble good-naturedly at the Hub about what a waste of money flowers were and how she wished Rhys would buy her something useful, something that wouldn’t wither and die within a couple of weeks – like a jacket, she’d suggested, or at least some chocolate.

Gwen shifts in an attempted shrug. It hurts, Jack can see, even though she covers the wince. ‘I asked him for them,’ she says softly. ‘Figured if there’s a time to spend money on flowers, it’s now. They’ll last longer than me at this rate’.

Jack doesn’t know if it’s a joke or not. Looking closer, he settles on not. He feels her hand squeeze his own, weakly. 

‘I thought...’ Gwen starts, and then drops her head, embarrassed.

‘What?’ He is curious as to what she could possibly be too shy to say, after all this time.

She laughs, but it sounds sad and small. ‘I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. All the others, who grew old around you, who died, whilst you stayed young... I just didn’t think I’d be the same. I never really believed we’d be here’.

‘What did you think would happen?’ Jack asks carefully.

‘I don’t know. Maybe that the world would end whilst we were at Torchwood and we’d all go out together in a blaze of glory. Or sometimes... Sometimes I dreamed I’d become immortal too, and we’d travel the galaxies together.’ She smiles, rolls her eyes in self-mockery. ‘At the very least, I thought I’d die young and beautiful’.

‘You are beautiful’, he says, and suddenly questions why it has taken him so long to tell her. He wonders, not for the first time, whether things would have been different, if it wasn’t for Rhys. Or for Ianto. Or for the Doctor, or the Year That Never Was, or the 456, or a hundred other things. Does it even matter? They’d still have ended up here.

Gwen’s eyes are closed, and he’s not sure if she even heard. But then she’s turning and looking at him almost nervously. It reminds him of the days when she wanted too much from him, asked too much of him, and it sets his teeth on edge. He doesn’t think he can disappoint her when she’s like this.

‘Will you stay?’ she asks, quietly. ‘I know I don’t ask, normally, but it seems like these might count as extenuating circumstances.’

‘You should be with family,’ he says, and he’s not sure whether it’s the truth or a cop out. ‘Rhys and Anwen, and the grandchildren.’

‘You are family,’ Gwen says without a thought. The side of her mouth quirks upwards. ‘Even Rhys thinks so now.’

Jack snorts. ‘Yeah, I’m sure. Probably thinks of me as the drunk, sex-crazed uncle who everyone wishes didn’t come to the party.’

‘That’s exactly how he sees you,’ Gwen murmurs with a smile. She’s struggling with the words now, her voice weak as she staves off tiredness. ‘Say you’ll stay, Jack.’

He sighs. ‘I’ll stay.’

‘Until the end?’

‘Until the end.’



Title$ The Dangers of Tinkering
Word Count 700 Words
Rating PG
Warnings Post-CoE. 

It was well-known to most time agents that a vortex manipulator came with fail safes for emergencies. The vortex manipulator was a complex device. Repairs were tricky, as it was equally as possible to fry every computer within the vicinity or wipe out your entire existence. 

If, for example, someone was trying to modify the teleportation functions on a mostly busted manipulator, it was highly possible to blow a delicate piece of circuitry that could have devastating effects on all those near it. 

As it were, Jack Harkness sat in a bunker aboard a cold-fusion cruiser, fiddling with an older vortex manipulator, trying to avoid just that. He'd been off Earth for twenty-six months, spending his days working off passage, and his evenings on repairs. His teleportation function hadn't worked since the Doctor had disabled his access to the time vortex, but this cruiser could change that. They'd managed to teleport him aboard, and maybe that meant he could commandeer some of that tech.

Distantly, Jack hoped this was the first step in getting a working time machine. Realistically, it was at least a chance to travel on his own again. 

Jack tapped at an open panel and then a piercing buzz filled the air. He cursed and slammed the casing close just as a bright light filled the room, and his stomach twisted into knots. 
His eyes opened moments later, and his face was pressed against sun-warmed concrete. He pushed himself upright and fought back a choked sob as he took in his surroundings. Cardiff. 

A vortex manipulator, despite the Doctor's derisive comments, was the height of human technology. The second Jack had buggered his work, it had attempted to reset itself, and the result of that had thrown Jack back into his own timeline. It wasn't permanent. Once the system sorted itself out Jack would be jerked right back to where he started. 

Jack was somewhere near the Plass. His heart ached as he saw the towering, gleaming fountain. Of course he'd get thrown to Cardiff. He'd spent more years there than most people lived.

It had to have been late spring. Fragrant flowers bloomed outside of shops and a rare sunny day had warmed the area. In the distance, Jack spotted the café that Torchwood had frequented after the Cardiff bombings had taken out their previous meeting place. Jack closed his eyes and inhaled slowly, trying to calm himself. At least he had an idea of when he was. 

Nostalgia, or masochism, convinced Jack to edge through the crowds until he could peer into the café. It looked exactly as he remembered it. People milled around tables, chatting over coffees or pouring over documents and laptops. They were normal, oblivious to the evil that seemed to determine to overtake them, and Jack felt an old surge of protectiveness rush through him. That nativity used to be so important for him to guard, and now, after everything, he couldn't remember why. 

Jack turned just in time to spot a familiar figure carrying a cardboard tray of coffees and a bag of takeaway across the Plass. Gwen Cooper. She looked nothing like she had when Jack had last seen her. Her t-shirt hung loosely over a flat belly, and her face didn't have that pregnant glow. Jack swallowed. He couldn't remember why Ianto wasn't with her, but was equally devastated and relived that he didn't have to face that ghost right then. 

Despite years of training saying the contrary, Jack found himself desperately wanting Gwen's attention -- a chance to warn her about what was coming, beg her to watch out for Ianto, or to take Ianto and Rhys and just flee. There was so much he should say, or could say, that it left him frozen and watching helplessly as she walked farther away.

Jack swore and set off after Gwen. All he needed was a chance to say one thing. One thing and he could fix a fifty year culmination of fuck-ups. 

He didn't get more than ten feet before his stomach twisted, and the world warped around him to drop him back into his dark, too cold cabin on the edge of space. 

Jack hated technology. 


Jun. 22nd, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
Sure. I can add them to the top of the post now. The prompts were 'Out of time' and 'flower/flowers'