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Pairings: Jack/Gwen, later Jack/Gwen/John Hart, Gwen/John friendship
Setting-post COE…Flashbacks will go AU at “Adam” and “Something Borrowed,” also with later events as well. Elements of the Time Agency are still in place. Some mythology may be altered or invented to suit my storytelling purposes. A few lines were borrowed from those episodes.
Romance, angst, hurt/comfort, and yes, even a little humor thrown in as well
Summary-At the ruins of the Hub, Gwen and her young son encounter Captain John Hart. As Gwen relates her trials of the last several months, John discovers a way for them to locate Jack and unite with him once again.
Disclaimer-The BBC owns all
A/N-I used British terminology where possible, but the spelling is American. If I’ve completely mucked up something significant-just let me know.
Behind Blue Eyes
Gwen clutched at the cold wires of the taut metal fence, tears pooling in her large, green eyes. The chatter of oblivious workmen inside the pit forced the salt water to spill its banks, the hard-hatted demolition crew unaware of the sacred ground on which they trod, excavating with backhoes and dozers, hauling away over two years of her life at Torchwood.
Toshiko had been the only one of their group to actually die in the Hub, at the hands of Jack’s brother, Gray, no less. Owen, perished for the final time, containing the nuclear catastrophe at Turnmill. Ianto, in London, pled for the lives of Earth’s children, remaining resolutely at Jack’s side until he succumbed to the gas released into the room. Even though they may not have died on this spot, their spirits had resided there. The turned earth now mocked their loss, trying to erase the government’s giant fuck up—destroying the only agency even remotely capable of dealing with a massive alien attack, then impotently offering up millions of children to save their own sorry hides, while shifting blame to some mid-level bureaucrat who realized only too late how he’d been played.
Gwen swiped at the tears cooling on her face, the sadness for her lost friends giving way to the anger she’d tried to keep stowed away, anger once buried like a body in the vaults—now exposed to the elements—raw and destructive. They had survived the loss of Tosh and Owen, scarred, yes, but still pressing on, fighting the good fight—as their fallen friends would have wanted. Hell, they could have even recovered from the government’s betrayal—the stuffed shirts’ shortsightedness and lack of understanding being their patent excuse for ineptitude.
But Ianto…Steven…the unforgiving anguish in Alice’s eyes and her screams acknowledging her father’s betrayal…the guilt of having once led children to this horrific fate…it was all too much for Captain Jack Harkness. He couldn’t die, couldn’t save Ianto, couldn’t give himself in his grandson’s place, couldn’t remain on a planet that reminded him of so much pain and loss, and so even as Gwen begged, heavy with the burden in her belly, even as she screamed into the dark night, willing Jack to stay…for *her*…the blue-eyed immortal disappeared into a flash of starlight. Gwen’s wincing husband, Rhys, finally breathed a silent sigh that the primary contender for his wife’s affections was now light years from Earth.
Gwen absently rocked the bundle snuggled at her breast, blinking at the crushed stems in her hand as her vision finally returned to the present day. Patting her hand against the underside of the black, padded Snugli to soothe the baby beginning to rouse from his midday nap, she fed the tortured stalks through the wire diamonds, offering one final tribute to those who were gone—to give proof that her lost friends hadn’t been forgotten. The tenacious brunette wouldn’t allow them to pass into memory, unacknowledged like a whispered rumor or tabloid fodder.
Gwen Cooper was so occupied with the baby and the flowers that she noticed, nearly too late, the tell-tale flashes of neon-hued electricity that split the rift a few meters away along the shell-shocked Plass.
Instinctively reaching for the small of her back, realizing only then that no weapon rested there, Gwen Cooper eyed the approaching figure, not much taller than herself, with a wary eye and a healthy dose of suspicion.
“You got a gun hidden away in the nappies?” he chuckled, holding up his hands in a half-hearted surrender, indicating to the fiercely protective mother before him that he meant no harm.
“Somewhere…,” Gwen hedged, “Just can’t get to it at the moment,” the brunette conceded, cringing at her current lack of preparedness. Breathing a defeated sigh she asked, “What are you doing here, John?”
The time agent who, after pinching a dark leather jacket from a nattering businessman at a pub, seemed to blend in with his surroundings, appearing as any other curious onlooker, passing by the ruins.
“Just come to pay my respects—that’s all,” he declared softly and sincerely, his eyes looking squarely into Gwen’s, revealing no deceit or ill-purpose. “Feel right bad ‘bout the way things turned out.”
Gwen’s tears welled once again as she looked back toward excavation of the Hub, grimacing at the strident blares from the earth movers beneath them. She lightly bounced her concealed bundle against her hip in her distraction.
“He’s not here,” she declared to the rogue agent, figuring that once John knew of Jack’s disappearance, he too would leave Cardiff, and Gwen would return to her private grieving and shambles of a life.
“Didn’t figure he would be,” John looked out onto the devastation with Gwen, defeated in the fact that once again, he was unable to give Jack back what he had lost.
“Sorry I wasn’t here to help,” John drew Gwen’s eyes back from the Hub’s ruin with his uncharacteristic apology. “I was…unavoidably detained,” he explained diplomatically, though Gwen’s assumptions quickly ran to a cause of the sordid variety.
“Oh, really?” the brunette queried in wry disbelief, adjusting her son’s blanket against the early spring winds off the bay.
The captain’s dark blonde curls whipped in the unforgiving gust, his blue eyes, downcast with memory.
“Tried to go back—fix what I’d fucked up,” he confessed, eyes still not meeting Gwen’s as she studied him intently. “Thought if I went back—killed Gray before the other me rescued him,” such a statement only making sense to someone like Gwen, “then I couldn’t have brought him back…he wouldn’t have done all those horrible things…wouldn’t have made *me* do all those horrible things,” he added, swallowing at the lump in his throat.
“Was being tracked by one of the higher ups back then…pissed ‘cause I was crossing my own timeline, trying to change the past…bastard sent me forward…had me detained. Read in the prison archives ‘bout the whole 456 debacle. By the time I conned the night guard into smuggling my vortex manipulator out of the warden’s office…it was too late. Jack was already gone, and I couldn’t risk opening the rift again with the agency on my ass about Gray. Laid low for awhile…till things settled back down, anyways…then looked in some of his favorite haunts—ancient Greece—short togas and all,” John quipped, bringing a hint of a smile to Gwen’s face. “USO dances…little moon off Tendaris 4…has this great club where all the waiters have these really long--,”
“Don’t—say it,” Gwen cut off whatever lascivious comment the wickedly wild captain was about to make.
Tentacles…,” the time agent redirected, “Horrible, slimy tentacles—never understood why he liked that place,” John scoffed playfully, eliciting a small laugh from his companion. Sighing resignedly, the searching agent admitted, “I haven’t found him, luv.” Hart swallowed cautiously at the familiarity, knowing that if Gwen Cooper was in top form, she’d already have her knee in his back and her gun at his head for the presumption.
“I figure I might never see him again,” Gwen swiped at her tears, looking toward the ruined mixture of Welsh and English, now fodder for the wrecking ball.
“He has a way of turning up eventually,” John reassured Gwen, even though he wasn’t quite sure if his words were true. Something in Gwen’s uncharacteristic vulnerability struck a chord in the raucous agent, both seeming to commiserate in the pain of Jack’s rejection. He moved to stand with her as Gwen faced the crude barrier for the last time, the time agent placing his right hand at her back which had started to sway from the bundle of baby wriggling in his carrier.
“They’re starting construction tomorrow,” John stated unnecessarily, knowing Gwen was there to say her final goodbyes as well. “Some plain-faced public building with nothing but a wee little placard acknowledging ‘the service of those who protected Cardiff from threats both at home and abroad,’” John explained with a wry flourish, disdaining the government’s pallid thanks. “It’s a long way from ‘In These Stones Horizons Sing’ …to quote another Gwyneth,” John nodded to the remains of the poetic façade that held Gwen’s gaze.
“Creu Gwir Fel Gwydr O Ffwrnais Awen,” Gwen repeated from memory, “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration,” she translated, scoffing at the irony of the charred words, the warning blare of the wrecking ball echoing off the remaining dome.
Gwen clutched her son closely as her tears flowed once again, “That’s it—that’s all they get?” she cried in frustration, “They die to save the world, and all they get is darkness…a great void…nothing…except some stupid, sodding plaque that secretaries and bureaucrats will just trod on when they’re late to work,” a few of the workmen glaced up briefly at the harsh words before dismissing them and returning to their task.
“Hey now…,” John soothed as he pulled Gwen to him, his arm wrapped around her shoulder, “Maybe they got their golden ticket, yeah?” he encouraged softly, smiling a little at the ill-timed pun. “You should get some kind of reward for savin’ the world, huh?”
“Owen said when he died the first time—there was nothing—a cold, dark space,” Gwen shook with her hopeless tears, the child in her arms growing increasingly restless, sensing his mother’s distress.
“Maybe…,” John’s eyes sought the grieving ones before him, “maybe Owen hadn’t moved on yet… still had people to save, yeah?” he held Gwen’s gaze until he saw the hopeful flicker of light in her large, green eyes before he continued.
“I’ve seen lots of places…lots of people…spirits out of time and place, some of them, but I’d like to think there’s something waiting for us poor mortals at the end of the line,” he added with a hopeful smile, grinning at the discovery of a clean handkerchief that he handed to Gwen who wiped away the evidence of her upset.
“There *is* a family legend that I might be the reincarnation of a Victorian aunt of mine,” Gwen considered with a smile of affirmation. “A clairvoyant who martyred herself to protect the world from a Gelth invasion,” she said with humorous pride.
“See—just proves my point,” Hart replied in cheerful teasing. Their light laughter was halted by the insistent wail from inside the carrier—Gwen’s baby searching for the desired sustenance, hidden beneath layers of cloth and polyester batting.
“Somebody’s getting’ hungry, I suspect,” the rogue agent’s eyes crinkled with his broad smile.
“Yeah…,” brought to a sudden awareness of her son’s hunger, Gwen began looking around futilely for an appropriate spot to feed her child. A solution was offered by the man who had never before struck her as the considerate type.
“There’s a little pub down the block—the Cock and Bull…great burgers…beer for me…juice for you,” he added solicitously.
“I don’t know…,” Gwen squinted to try and get a look at the establishment in question and gauge its level of seediness.
“It’s pretty quiet this time of day…big private booths…and I promise *no one* will bother you,” Hart’s waggling eyebrows indicating why she needn’t worry about any unwanted attention. The brunette shot an incredulous eyebrow toward the libidinous ne’er-do-well.
“Well, nobody but me, probably,” he corrected with self-effacing humor, picking up the black, padded bag loaded with nappies, wipes, and possibly Gwen’s missing service revolver. His free right hand returned to the small of the brunette’s back guiding her down the sidewalk and away from the destruction of the Hub and the loss of her friends.
“Remind me again why I’m going to lunch with someone who tried to kill me—on more than one occasion—I might add,” Gwen queried with sharp humor, matching Jack’s former lover stride for stride down the busy sidewalk on their way to a gay bar in downtown Cardiff.
“I was an innocent—victim of circumstance, remember?” John defended himself, like a poor, wounded puppy.
“Paralytic lipgloss—really?” Gwen scoffed in wry humor as they reached the suggested restaurant, John opening the pub door for her.
“Wanted to give you a sporting chance, luv,” Hart retorted, smiling as he signaled to the bartender.
“Got anything in the back?” Captain Hart inquired, Gwen noting John’s behavior in the pub much more solicitous than the last she’d witnessed.
“Take your pick,” the burly, bald man behind the counter nodded to the back of the pub.
“Pint for me…and…,”
Gwen quickly thought of what the Cock and Bull might offer, “Um…pineapple juice?”
“Large pineapple juice for the lady,” John requested, the bartender nodded and began to fill the requisite glasses.
“Cheeseburger and chips?” the time agent offered his companion.
“Sure,” Gwen nodded in assent.
“A couple of cheeseburger baskets, please.”
Another silent nod sent John to extend his hand, leading Gwen toward the booth he’d intended. As they wove their way through the quiet bar, the uncharacteristically accommodating agent wondered briefly why Gwen’s doughy Welshman wasn’t there today, offering his soft shoulders to cry on—why he wasn’t there to lug the nappies and buy the mother of his child a burger and chips. He’d intended to ask before, but didn’t want to elicit a fresh round of tears if the answer was an unhappy one.
“This alright?” he asked instead as they came to the last booth available, a spacious semi-circle with a half wall on the right.
John reached over and placed the black tote on the bench seat in the middle, so Gwen could reach it easily. His brunette companion studied the booth, trying to decide how to negotiate sliding around the red vinyl seat with the baby in tow.
“You mind holding him for a minute?” Gwen asked John, a little unsure as to the wisdom of her request, but needing to get her son settled and fed as quickly as possible.
“Sure,” John smiled and agreed offhandedly.
“Here we go…out of your cocoon,” Gwen cooed, lifting the six-month-old out of the black sling and handing her to a man capable of jumping millennia in a matter of seconds.
As John took the wriggling bundle from his mother, and she proceeded to scoot herself around the table, the questions he had silently asked as they made their way to the booth were suddenly answered, and the normally garrulous agent was suddenly struck silent.
Wordlessly he sat beside a preoccupied Gwen, busy with buttons and bra. He sat the gurgling boy on the table, facing the six-month-old as he securely held him upright, studying the small child.
A shock of dark hair parted on the right, sweeping left over a broad forehead and straight brow…the ears with their snug fitting lobes and distinctive curves…cleft chin and dimpled cheeks…long limbs…and as the baby reached for a handful of curls and a mouthful of nose, John Hart discovered the infant also had one hell of a grip.
John laughed good-naturedly as he disentangled his hair from the baby’s hand and gazed on the attribute that could not be explained away by distant relation or quirk of genetics. In the broadly-set features, eyes that should have been the color of leaves in summer were instead the color of blue flame with silver flecks like stars woven through. At the flash of recognition, a tiny, straight brow quirked upward, matching a scarred one across from the infant. A broad, dimpled smile mirrored the grinning face sitting beside his mother.
The little boy gurgled and shrieked happily at the playmate he’d found, John’s awe-struck face and dancing eyes providing a wealth of entertainment. The hulking bartender deposited their drinks wordlessly, John glancing up and nodding in thanks. The excited infant gurgled and squealed to gain his new friend’s attention once again—his dimples marking deep crescents when he got his way.
“Cooper, you are a terrible flirt,” his mother teasingly admonished as she lifted the baby from his seat, settling the lively child on her lap and offering him her bared breast.
“Came by it naturally, did he?” John grinned.
“That obvious, is it?” Gwen asked rhetorically, stroking Cooper’s soft hair with the side of her thumb as he nursed.
“You don’t need me to tell you that,” Jack’s old lover responded pointedly.
“Suppose not,” the brunette sighed, taking a long drink of the juice set before her.
John’s gaze couldn’t help but settle on the full breast exposed before him. He felt himself oddly jealous of an infant in the moment.
Gwen started to glare accusingly when she looked up, noticing that John’s gaze was not politely averted. Not that she really expected decorum when it came to Captain Hart, however. Her brief bout of indignation was broken by his pointed query.
“So—no blanket fort constructed in the name of modesty?” the time agent snarked before downing a swig from his heavy glass. “How very modern of you.”
“Do *you* normally take your meals underneath the bedclothes?” Gwen replied pointedly with a humorously indignant arch of her brow.
“Well….” Hart grinned and looked to the ceiling as if formulating an answer.
“Never mind—don’t answer that,” Gwen stopped the libidinous response short.
“You never let me have any fun,” John pouted playfully. As the heard the bartender approach with their food, the spurned captain, who normally reveled in mayhem and violence, stood to take the baskets before the stranger could reach the table.
“Thanks, mate,” John responded graciously.
“Need anything else?” the burly man grunted.
John glanced back to make sure that there was a sufficient supply of napkins and condiments.
“We’ll let you know,” the agent nodded, indicating that the bartender needn’t return unless called for. With a single nod, the bartender took his leave.
John helped Gwen sort out her burger and fries before tending to his own, the former officer eyeing him suspiciously when he wasn’t looking and smiling amiably when he was.
After tucking in to their lunch and taking another drink from their glasses, John could contain his curiosity no longer.
“So…how exactly did all this happen?” Hart glanced down at the infant with an arched, scarred eyebrow before taking another bite.
“Didn’t your parents have this little chat with you before puberty set in?” Gwen shot back with a wry grin.
“Come on…spill. I cut up the burger for you and everything,” John cajoled humorously. “What—did you think that Jack’s little swimmers had gone tits-up after all these years?”
“Well, no, but I found out that birth control pills and retcon aren’t a very effective combination,” Gwen whispered forcefully. Sighing at John’s still-inquisitive expression, Gwen rolled her eyes and unwillingly conceded—
“Fine…,” she relented, preparing to tell the whole sordid tale,”—but no getting jealous,” she added, fearing Hart’s mercurial moods.
“The only one I’m envious of right now is little Cooper there,” John waggled his eyebrows playfully, eliciting a little groan from the nursing mother along with a wadded up napkin aimed in his general direction.
Gwen brought the infant upright for a burp before settling him onto the other breast, catching the rakish agent staring again before she had the chance to adjust her blouse.
“Oi! Eyes up here!” the tough brunette ordered as she slid her blouse to loosely cover the swollen nipple.
“Sorry,” the lascivious captain was shaken out of his reverie, needing to squirm in his seat for adjustment’s sake. “You were saying….”
Deciding that she might as well confide in John as he was never one to let go of anything gracefully, the single mum began to disclose the fiery affair that led to Cooper’s birth.
“Went into work one morning and there was this little piss-ant wannabe sitting there like he owned the place. His name was Adam….
****”Our memories define us. Adam changed those memories... changed who we are. Now I have to help you all go back, find a memory that defines you. Rediscover who you are. If I'm wrong, he'll still be here when we've done this. Let me take you back to before we all met... Feel around for anything that makes you what you are... the hidden and the forgotten. Tell me where you are.”
Each member of the team sought for a recollection so personal, so encompassing, that it had lived to escape Adam’s intrusion. Ianto’s lost love…Tosh’s isolation…Owen’s severed relationship with his mother…bitter memories soothed by Jack, by the meaning they found at Torchwood.
Offering each a small white pill and gently laying their heads down against the table, Jack came to Gwen, her eyes brimming with tears. A few days ago Rhys was a stranger in a bathrobe she held at gunpoint. While, yes, she could now locate those elusive memories, could remember those silly jokes and kisses in the queue, but to hold up these lives side by side in comparison was too much to ask.
****“If what you say is true...”
“It is. We love each other.”
“But how could I forget that?”****
****“I always worried that you'd... that you'd just settled for me, you know. Cos if you met me now, Gwen, with all that goes on in your life, could be that you wouldn't look twice at me.” ****
“The way he looks at me sometimes--as if he's scared of what he feels for me. I love him.”
Jack straightened and took a breath, as if preparing to take his rejection like a man.
“But not in the way I love you.”
Gwen’s tears fell as she pushed away from the table where the others lay asleep, leaving the small pill behind.
“Gwen!” Jack called out to her retreating form, then pocketed the abandoned retcon, following the sobbing brunette through the maze of corridors.
Jack stopped short at the open door to the lounge where he found Gwen’s shuddering form curled away from him on a far bed. He closed the door to the large room made into a sanctuary by the addition of beds, chaises and sumptuous sofas. Rich curtains and carpets deadened the Weevils’ hisses below and chased the cold from the concrete corridor just outside. The bath beside provided relief from the stench of slime and rot, and balm for the pains of combat or torture.
Jack would come here to escape the burden of his circumstances, while any of them might sneak off to take their pleasures in each other—traditional relationships usually out of the question for most members of Torchwood.
Gwen had been the first, at Jack’s insistence, to try and maintain the façade of a normal life. He tried to be unselfish, held his tongue at Rhys’s accusations, wanted Gwen to have the husband and family, so he could prove himself capable of wanting what was best for Gwen—even when it didn’t seem she wanted it for herself.
Gwen had never before been able to examine her new life at Torchwood in such stinging contrast with her old. The tabula rasa produced through Adam’s influence was wholly unlike Tosh’s—Gwen was not forced to love someone through manipulation—what she felt for Jack was real—had been real for a while now. The difference being that Gwen was able to experience that love for Jack without the guilt of betrayal haunting her.
Gwen was no fool—knowing that no single person—man or woman-- would ever be enough for Jack. The weeping brunette did not indulge in white-picket fence fantasies starring the handsome immortal, though it never seemed to squelch the desire and connection she had with her mysterious employer. The kisses they had shared had not been passionate ones, but the heated glances…the way his strong body made her feel when he would pin her to the wall, usually when locked in a battle of wills…. The jealousy that he could just barely contain when he learned of her engagement to Rhys made her feel smugly vindicated—Jack having left for months without a word…abandoning them…abandoning her….
Gwen’s bout of self-pity was interrupted by the two strong arms that wrapped around her from behind, one sliding underneath the damp pillow and the other encircling her trim waist. Gwen could not help but sink back into the tall, firm body that cradled hers.
“Shh…it’ll be ok, Gwen. I promise tomorrow this will all be over,” Jack soothed, this right hand reaching up to smooth Gwen’s tangled, dark locks back away from her face. As Gwen’s tears continued to pour forth, Jack’s lips nuzzled at the pale column of her neck, continuing a soft litany of words intended to soothe her distress, his strong right hand moving back to her belly, absently stroking the soft flesh revealed as her blouse had twisted against the sheets. “You’ll wake up in the morning, and you’ll have forgotten how you feel tonight.”
“What if I don’t want to forget, Jack?” Gwen turned to face the blue-eyed immortal, though remaining in the close circle of his arms. Her cotton blouse had twisted further, several buttons slipping out of their eyelets when she moved. Jack held Gwen’s hip, unwilling to let her move too far away.
“I don’t want to pretend anymore, Jack. That life isn’t enough—not now.”
“Tomorrow it will be though,” Jack replied sadly, knowing that wiping all their minds was an absolute necessity. “Gwen you have to take the retcon—so do I. It’s the only way we can be rid of Adam. He’s manipulated us…changed our memories,” Jack explained, his eyes pleading with Gwen to understand.
“I know that, Jack…. But it doesn’t change the fact that I *want* to remember,” her left hand slid along the soft cotton of his rumpled shirt, trying to map his body in her memory.
Jack’s gaze traveled down the body he held so closely, Gwen’s ample breasts rising and falling within the lacy, black bra that encased them. Eyes that had fallen closed in resignation flew open as a hand cupped her breast and a gentle thumb grazed her nipple.
“The next time I touch you here…,” Jack avowed as he reverently caressed the covered globe, teasing the point to hardness with a feathery touch, “we’ll remember….”
“When I kiss you…,” Jack breathed before capturing Gwen’s lips with his own, his hand sliding down to grasp her shapely bottom, guiding her leg to wrap around his hip, his hard shaft straining against his slacks and nudging at her aching core. Lips that before had only proffered tender, innocent kisses to the other now met in passion, tongues exploring the warm cavern of the other’s mouth.
“Taste you…,” Jack flicked the catch between Gwen’s full breasts, pushing away the intruding fabric to capture the hard, rosy nipple between his lips and laving the circle of sensitive flesh till it puckered tightly under his tongue. Gwen clutched Jack’s dark hair, holding him to her breast as her thighs held him tightly to her body. Gwen rocked her hips, desperate for contact.
Jack stripped away the blouse and bra that hung splayed open, diving hungrily for the other breast as his hand caressed the one already wet with his attentions. Gwen’s panties became hot and slick from the strong, rhythmic pulls of Jack’s eager mouth.
Gwen pushed down the leather braces at his shoulders, and then deftly picked the buttons of Jack’s woven shirt, eager for the feel of his bare skin against her own. He stopped in his pursuits only long enough to tug at the sleeves rolled tightly against his forearms. Jack groaned at the play of tongue and teeth against his nipple. They lavished each other with hungry, eager kisses over responsive flesh.
Jack paused in his attentions only long enough to look into Gwen’s deep, green eyes and smile at the metallic rasp of his belt buckle opening in Gwen’s hands. He quickly responded to the invitation in kind—pulling from Gwen’s long legs the last articles of clothing that kept him from what he desired.
Gwen pushed away the slacks and boxers from Jack’s hips, freeing his hard cock from its confines. A gratified moan escaped her throat as she grabbed his muscular backside, nesting his slick head against her damp folds.
“You’re sure…this is what you want…?”
“More than anything, Jack,” Gwen assured, hips rising to meet his in her certainty.
Jack kicked away the last vestiges of his clothing, hands moving to explore and make ready each other’s sex. Their need was too great, hunger gnawing away at them both until they were raw and desperate.
Jack shifted his weight to rest squarely on top of Gwen’s, cock nudging at her warm, wet entrance.
His hands framed her face, promising as he looked into her wide eyes, only a thin circle of green framing pupils blown wide with desire.
“When I fill you up…make you call out my name….”
“Make love to me, Jack…make me remember….”
At her words, Jack plunged deeply within Gwen’s warm, wet heat. Jack’s blue eyes glistened at the pleasure written on Gwen’s face. Taking her despair and making something beautiful instead helped him forget for a moment that after their dose of retcon, tonight would be gone—wiped from both their minds.
Their only hope lay in building memories of touch…of taste…of scent—those memories that lay buried so deep as to fool the consciousness. The brush of a hand against a breast…the taste of salt on skin…the scent of bodies rich with arousal—sense memory could bring them back, could make them remember this night, long after the threat of Adam was erased.
But if tonight was all they had—then Jack and Gwen were certainly going to make the most of their chance to be together. Jack was filling over and again all those empty, aching places that had plagued Gwen so since Adam’s arrival.
Jack pulled Gwen up from the bed, the pair wrapping themselves around each other. Jack smiled broadly as Gwen’s clear, green eyes meet his, the wicked, knowing gleam had returned to them.
“There’s my Gwen,” Jack breathed out, raking her hair away from her face with his fingers before knotting his fingers in her long, dark locks and bringing her lips to his.
“Jack…,” the tall brunette responded in kind, using hands and mouth to record every detail—the curve of a lip…the cleft of a chin…hard planes and pistoning muscles—Gwen crafting a path of touchstones so she might, one day, make her way back to Captain Jack Harkness.
Her confidence restored, Gwen rocked her hips fiercely against Jack’s while their tongues tangled in a dual union of exploration and pleasure. Jack nibbled at the tender flesh behind her ear, ghosted his fingers across the curve of shoulder blade and along the arms currently clasped around his neck, and revisited the tender, rosy flesh at the tip of each breast. When Jack might find the moment to touch Gwen like this again, he couldn’t be sure, whatever contact might provoke the chance to revisit this night, he would be certain to make it now.
Fingers, skating from full breasts to trim waist, travelled to the flat of her abdomen, grinning a little as he circled her bellybutton, and then with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, dropped his thumb to the cleft of Gwen’s folds, teasing the needy tangle of nerves nestled there.
Gwen lay back once again, bringing her legs up to rest on Jack’s strong shoulders. Shifting to his knees, Jack lifted Gwen’s hips, so the swollen head of his cock hit the spongy, sweet spot buried deep inside with each stroke. His thumb drew a firm path between slick nether lips as Gwen’s hands ran the length of Jack’s firm thighs and curving round to grasp handfuls of Jack’s well-defined ass, pulling his body to hers with abandon.
His mouth knew the sweet and salty taste of her breast on his tongue…his fingertips knew the swell of her sex as she neared her orgasm…his cock had mapped the each slick fold, the tight heat of the sheath in which it was now buried. With one last firm twist of her clit and fierce thrust of his hips, his name had never sounded sweeter on Gwen’s lips.
“Jack!” Gwen called out, her climax ripping fiercely from her core and flowing to all her extremities, igniting a firestorm of release that Gwen couldn’t imagine being able to forget.
“Gwen…” Jack responded in kind to the pulsing pull of her snug sheath, filling her core with creamy ropes of his heated essence. The contracting channel surrounding Jack milked him to a gratified completion.
Jack and Gwen lay in each other’s arms, continuing to trace each other’s bodies until the slick fluids began to dry against sticky flesh. After a few moments to rest, Jack grinned down at the brunette beauty drawing spiraling circles on the flat of his nipples.
“How does a bubble bath sound?” he inquired.
“Sounds perfect,” Gwen purred, stretching up to offer an agreeable kiss. Jack smiled at the pleased lilt in Gwen’s voice, marking the familiar long vowels and dropped consonants, storing away her sated words to find at another time.
The bath that began with tender caressing and games played with copious spicy, bubbles progressed into another round of lovemaking with Gwen riding Jack in the hot, swirling water as the iridescent foam spilled its banks onto the tile floor.
Coming together in long and deep climaxes, Gwen collapsed against Jack’s firm shoulder until the water began to cool, Jack lifting Gwen from the tub and drying her tenderly before carrying her back to the bed where they pleasured each other with warm mouths, attentive lips and curious tongues till the hour grew late and the dawn threatened to foil their plans to be rid of their intruder pounding away on the cell wall downstairs.
Gwen was gently awakened by Jack who had dressed once again and laid her own clothes on the bed beside her.
“Gwen, sweetheart…,” Jack kissed her awake, his hand brushing the mussed hair from her face.
“Jack…,” the sleepy brunette mumbled before remembering the unhappy task that awaited them.
“Let’s get you dressed,” Jack offered Gwen her undergarments which she put on in her sated haze. “Wouldn’t do for you to wake up naked while everyone else was still in their clothes,” he smiled wryly.
“I suppose not…,” Gwen fumbled with the hooks and straps of her bra before slipping back into her shirt and awkwardly feeding the buttons back through their holes.
“I’ll bring everyone in here—put Tosh in beside you. Give Owen the couch and Ianto the chaise.”
“If you really wanted to fuck with them, you could put them both in here,” Gwen smiled wickedly, Jack chuckling lightly in response.
“I’m afraid things are going to be confusing enough as it is,” Jack commented pointedly.
A fresh wave of guilt and concern washed over Gwen’s face.
“I sent a delivery of pizza and beer to your flat—already spiked with a dose of retcon,” Jack informed Gwen, insuring that Rhys’s interaction with Adam would remain forgotton as well as the fact that his fiancé had considered him a stranger for the last few days. A message given by the delivery boy informed the Welshman that Gwen was staying late at work for an emergency but was sending him dinner to make up for her absence.
“Right…,” Gwen took at deep breath, knowing the changes the morning would bring. Knowing there was no happy solution to the situation, Gwen’s mind joined Jack’s in the practical concerns of the moment.
“The bathroom…,” she started to the darkened doorway, remembering the soapy mess they’d left behind.
“Already took care of it,” Jack smiled, laying Gwen back on the bed after she’d finished fastening her trousers. “I’ll get everyone situated, then go deal with Adam--,”
“You’ll need some help,” Gwen made to rise and dutifully aid in dispatching with the mysterious intruder.
“I need to face him alone…,” Jack refused softly, knowing that he needed to put an end to the young man who held his memories hostage. “Get some rest,” Jack smiled, his blue eyes tinged with sadness, knowing that his words would be lost in mere moments. He hovered over Gwen’s supine form, trying to memorize the exact expression on her face.
“I love you too, Gwen Cooper,” Jack kissed her tenderly, their eyes glazed with tears at the avowal that would soon be erased. Jack stood again, pulling the blankets up to cover Gwen’s clothed body. Wiping at a tear that escaped his sweetly sad eyes, Jack reached into his shirt pocket, Gwen’s abandoned dose of retcon resting on the tip of his finger.
“Good night, sweet girl,” Jack whispered, placing the small pill on her tongue, Gwen swallowing in sad acceptance of her fate. With a last kiss to her forehead, Gwen slipped into a dreamless, forgetful sleep…
“So…did one of your bunch forget to take their little pill?” John snarked, curious as how Gwen retained knowledge of her stolen night with Jack if all of them had taken their retcon as instructed.
“No…Gwen shook her head absently, her hand caressing the fine dark hair atop Cooper’s head, his nursing slowing to a more leisurely pace.
“Then…how…?” John’s face contracted in question, wondering how Gwen would’ve known of her child’s paternity.
“It was the day before my wedding to Rhys….”
(The morning after Jack and Gwen’s night together…moving on to the day before the wedding)
Gwen and the other Torchwood agents awoke later the next day in a haze of confusion…all having slept in their clothes and waking with the hangover typical of a retcon dosing. They reviewed logs and monitors, but found no cause for their lapse of memory. Checking the cells below, they found only Weevils who hissed in displeasure at their imprisonment. The chambers were certainly empty of ginger-headed humanoids bent on infiltrating their secretive numbers.
Gwen’s wedding plans continued without hesitation, typical concerns over interfering in-laws and seating arrangements occupying her scant spare time. She and Rhys tackled the requisite events leading up to the wedding—registering for gifts and planning their honeymoon, peppered only with their usual arguments concerning the demands of Gwen’s job and Rhys’s occasional bouts with inadequacy.
For her part, Gwen tried to play the part of the dutiful fiancé as well as she could, only sometimes waking with a strange longing after an unremembered dream and a jittery tummy, rebelling at the smell of Rhys’s breakfast fry-up sizzling in the kitchen.
On the day before her wedding, when Rhys had dutifully planned to stay at Banana Boat’s for the night, following a doubtlessly raucous bachelor party, and Ianto, Tosh and Owen were all away from the Hub, attending to reports of alien phenomena or making final adjustments for their wedding attire, Gwen and Jack were in pursuit of a nasty shape-shifter that had slipped through the rift.
The Torchwood pair had split up in an attempt to cut off the alien’s escape route with Jack dodging through an alleyway as Gwen continued running down the vicious creature.
Chasing the Nostrovite into a dead end, Gwen’s revolver skittered along the pavement when her shot failed to stop the horrific creature, and he instead rushed the tall brunette, knocking away her weapon and slamming the bride-to-be to the ground, then biting her with razor-sharp teeth in the seconds before Jack appeared, emptying his revolver into the murderous alien.
Panicked, Jack pocketed Gwen’s revolver and called Ianto and Owen to drop what they were doing and deal with the hideous corpse that littered the alleyway. He scooped up a bleeding Gwen, running back to the Hub with the wounded brunette in his arms.
“Jack…,” Gwen groaned a little as the handsome immortal laid her on a familiar bed in the lounge, his hands ripping at the buttons on her blouse to discover the source of blood staining her shirtfront.
“Where is it…,” Jack skimmed his hands over the creamy flesh of Gwen’s abdomen, ghosting fingers over ribs and dismissing shallow abrasions that he would come back to later with antiseptic and bandages.
Without a second thought to modesty or decorum, Jack ripped at the front catch of Gwen’s bra, afraid of the wound he might find underneath. But instead, his hands traced over full, perfect globes, fingertips trailing over nipples that grew diamond-hard at his touch.
Memory flashed between them at the unplanned contact—the forgotten night suddenly returning in a montage of emotion and sensation. Jack’s hands still cupped the tender flesh, the handsome immortal uncharacteristically silent in his amazement while he searched Gwen’s equally astounded countenance. Finally, the wounded brunette whispered--
“The blood was from my arm, I think,” Gwen’s eyes traveled to the stained sleeve. Jack pulled the shirt away gently, revealing the wound that was rapidly closing, the laceration having stained her breast as Jack carried her back in his arms.
Now safe from Adam’s intrusion, every moment from their night together was free to replay in their memories—the need for each other became almost suffocating before Gwen spoke softly, Jack’s fingers still circling rosy flesh.
“Kiss me, Jack…,” Gwen whispered, caught in a flood of longing.
“If I kiss you, I won’t want to stop…,” Jack pleaded in his prediction.
“Don’t stop,” Gwen breathed out, fingers flying to the buttons of Jack’s shirt as he bent to capture her lips with his own, the fastenings of her snug trousers released at Jack’s hands. “I don’t want you to stop….”
“We made love…had a bathe…made love again,” Gwen smiled at the memory, “and then my phone rang—it was my girlfriends at the bar, wondering why the hell I was missing my own hen do,” a sad smile came to Gwen’s face as she looked up at John, confessing to the wedding that still took place under the weight of massive guilt and shame, coupled with familial obligation and expectation.
“Of course, on my wedding day, I woke up with a full-term Nostrovite fetus in my belly and a shape-shifting female of the species looking for her baby,” Gwen described to a surprised and amused Captain John. “I didn’t even know I was pregnant with Cooper, yet,” she propped the baby onto her shoulder to pat his back, extracting a hearty burp in the process.
John held his hands out for the baby, so Gwen could fasten her bra and blouse, the baby resting on his shoulder, sparkling blue eyes still trained on his mother.
“Fortunately, the singularity scalpel did its job—only attacking the Nostrovite egg,” she smiled at the fed and happy infant.
“So…it was once last fling before you tied the knot?” John inquired with his usual lack of discretion.
Gwen concealed her blush as she took a long sip of her juice.
“Not exactly…,” she confessed, biting her lip in her hesitancy to reveal the details of her last romantic encounter with Jack.
“After we lost Tosh and Owen…Jack had put Gray in stasis and you’d left…,” Gwen explained softly, “we were so broken…so alone…,” Gwen tried to justify the betrayal she’d committed as she searched for an adequate explanation.
“It was just Jack, Ianto and me left,” Gwen hedged, “and we….um…”
John had to stifle a smile at Gwen’s blushing admission and stammering confession of the threesome she’d been party to, as the remaining Torchwood agents sought to comfort each other in the depths of their loss. Somehow, if Gwen and Ianto could surround Jack, could take away the lonely hollowness, then they might be the gravity that could hold Jack to this world.
“I get the picture…,” John nodded, wondering to himself if the curvaceous brunette might be willing to try such a thing again, this time under less stressful circumstances.
“Between the birth control pills and Nostrovite incident…it was still several weeks before I was certain that I was having a baby,” Gwen explained unnecessarily. Captain Hart was no moral compass, though he did seem to possess a soft spot for the gurgling infant in his arms and his tough-cookie of a mum.
“Of course, just when I found out about Cooper, the 456 attacked, the Hub was destroyed, Jack had been blown to bits, and we were running for our lives. Rhys and I escaped Cardiff in a produce truck,” Gwen’s voice strained at the mention of her former husband.
“Once it was over, Jack couldn’t bear to stay after he lost Ianto and Steven, and I didn’t know for certain that Cooper was his until he was born.”
Six months ago
Gwen and Rhys had compromised…deciding to honor each of their fathers if their baby was a boy. Gwen opted for Cooper though, as she didn’t want to saddle a baby with ‘Geraint.’
They had avoided hospitals and doctors, not trusting government institutions since they had so recently escaped death at the hands of those elected to protect them.
Rhys fetched a local midwife to come to the rustic cottage, and once he’d returned with the well-experienced woman, the unnerved Welshman engaged in stammering and pacing, as any expectant father might do.
After a long bout of labor and delivery, Gwen lay on the stained bed, exhausted from the childbirth and soothed at the strong cries of the infant that had just been born.
The midwife cleaned the baby and wrapped him in warm blankets before handing him to Rhys and cutting the umbilical cord. Finishing with Gwen and turning back to the mewling infant with his wide, bright eyes, the midwife read the searching look on Rhys’s face and responded to the question on his lips.
“His eyes…,” the green-eyed Welshman stood transfixed, cataloging the infant’s features against the one’s he saw in the mirror each morning.
“Aye, beautiful aren’t they, sir?” the midwife smiled placatingly, catching the disbelief in her fellow countryman’s green eyes. “Course—all babies’ eyes are blue when they’re born,” she offered up sagely, Rhys nodding as if agreement would make it true.
“Rhys…,” Gwen called from the bed as the midwife changed the soiled sheet, disposed of the collected fluids and sterilized the implements of her profession, all while keeping a wary eye on the husband of the house, as he seemed a bit unsteady.
“Let me see him, Rhys…”
“Feeling up to it, then?” Rhys seemed to recover his solicitous demeanor, the midwife returning full attention to her numerous tasks at his words.
“I’m ok…,” Gwen nodded, holding out her arms for her newborn.
“Right then,” Rhys swallowed hard, tucking the blanket closely around the newborn. “Here’s…our…Cooper,” the Welshman said with uncertain brightness, laying the baby boy in his mother’s arms.
Gwen’s eyes filled with tears as she took in the image of her newborn, her wide green eyes meeting his bright blue ones. A small laugh escaped a sob as she traced the curve of a pink ear and straight eyebrow, marked with the faintest trace of dark hair. Cooper began to nuzzle insistently, prodding at his mother’s breast through her dressing gown.
“He’s ready to eat, missus,” the midwife instructed wisely, skittering over to help properly arrange the infant for feeding and offering advice for coping with the discomfort of nursing.
“Sir…you might head to the shops for some more nappies,” the midwife looked about the sparse furnishings of the room to take note of missing necessaries. “Find me pencil and paper—I’ll jot some things down for you.”
Rhys dutifully sought what the midwife required, then hustled out the door, finally secure in his assigned role—at least until he reached the market’s aisles and had to decide precisely what variety of nappies and sanitary napkins would be required in such a circumstance.
The matronly midwife settled herself on the edge of the bed, smiling down at the babe nursing at his mother’s breast.
“He’s a very special boy, isn’t he missus?” the earthy midwife ran her finger down to the baby’s palm. He promptly gripped the stocky finger in his hand.
“Strong…like his father?”
“Aye…,” Gwen’s eyes welled again with tears, one rolling down to splash at the back of Cooper’s head, sliding down to catch on the cotton blanket.
“Here now…enough of that,” the midwife softly chastised as she offered Gwen a handkerchief. “You’re a strong woman, missus. You’ve got to be strong for him now, too,” the wizened woman instructed.
“You’ll see him again—your man with the blue eyes,” the midwife looked far away for a moment, as if watching a tale unfold before her.
“Friends will be there to help you,” Gwen wanted to dismiss the stranger’s words—all her friends were lost.
“Trust me, missus,” the midwife insisted, patting Gwen’s hand, seeming to witness another revelation that made her chuckle and blush, meeting Gwen’s confused eyes with a wink. “You’ll lead many different lives, Gwen Cooper—this is just one of them,” the wily woman looked around the rustic room, knowing how out of place the new mother really was.
Gwen’s mouth hung agape at the older woman’s words—particularly since she had purposefully not made mention of her maiden name to the midwife.
“Your Welshman’s returned,” the midwife noted, before Gwen could even hear the rumble of the used auto they had procured.
Rhys bumbled in the door with the requisite purchases, smiling genially.
“Make sure she doesn’t lift anything heavier than the baby for a few weeks,” the midwife instructed firmly, Rhys taking note as he nodded his head in response. Come fetch me immediately if the bleeding worsens.”
“And take care you don’t let those nipples get cracked and dry,” the silver-headed woman turned her instruction toward Gwen who smiled back knowingly.
“Thank you for everything…Sara Foster,” Gwen shot back with the same trick as the midwife had employed…addressing the old widow by her maiden name, Gwen’s clairvoyant roots making themselves quietly known.
The ancient midwife chuckled heartily at Gwen’s goodbye, Rhys groping about in his wallet for the midwife’s fee, unsure as to the humor he had apparently missed.
Upon the collection of her payment and possessions, the midwife uttered a Welsh blessing and departed…leaving the three inhabitants of the small cottage to all that was yet to be…
“We stayed there for a couple of months. Every day it became more difficult to look Rhys in the face. He waited and waited to see something of himself in Cooper--,”
“But all he saw was Jack,” John finished knowingly.
“Apparently Rhys confided in his horrific mother—she suggested a paternity test. Went in to Cardiff with a sample of cells from the baby’s cheek,” Gwen scoffed at the memory of how well Rhys had hidden his true intentions from her, Rhys never before having been known for his guile and wiliness.
“As soon as the report came back, Rhys filed for divorce and disavowed his paternity of Cooper. Never saw him again after that. The baby and I came back to Cardiff—took up Tosh’s old apartment,” Gwen looked up from the cold remains of the potatoes in the plastic basket to note that John had not followed the last of her conversation, but seemed instead to be putting necessary facts together in his more than slightly twisted brain.
“Paternity test…DNA…,” John whispered to himself absently handing the baby back to Gwen. “I take it you’ve tried to track Jack in the traditional way?” John inquired.
“Of course…the computer systems lost him shortly after he left.
For a moderately reformed criminal, Captain John Hart was a shitty liar.
“I’m going to head to the loo…why don’t you give junior a fresh nappy there—he’s getting’ a little ripe,” John’s eyes twinkled with a plan that Gwen was certain to frown on.
“You’re not going to open the rift again, are you?” Gwen warned as if scolding the errant Time Agent.
“No…no,” he lied unconvincingly, backing into the dark hallway, “Just gotta go see a man about a horse,” he grinned before a flash of neon illuminated the hallway.
John was back in the booth barely before Gwen could finish with Cooper’s change. The time agent bounced in his seat, holding a strange device in his hands.
“Where did you get that?” Gwen raised an eyebrow in chastisement that didn’t seem to affect Captain Hart in the slightest.
“Doctor friend of mine,” John replied pointedly.
“Did you steal it?” Gwen inquired, not necessarily requiring a truthful answer if it led them in the right direction.
“Nope—had to promise some particularly scandalous sexual favors in return,” John joked, “but as this version looks about twelve, I told him he’d have to wait to collect,” the mischievous captain waggled his eyebrows at the curious brunette.
“Seriously—told him the truth, I did.”
Gwen raised her eyebrows, questioning the veracity of his statement.
“Promise,” John responded with a little hurt in his voice till Gwen relented and grew more curious than she was peeved. “Ok, so what is it?” the Torchwood agent peered at the contraption in John’s hands.
“The doctor took it off a resurgent group of werewolf-worshipping aliens masquerading as Tibetan monks. Trying to kidnap all the members of the monarchy and threaten to out them as werewolves if they didn’t fork over a tidy sum,” John explained as he punched and prodded at the mechanism, trying to jolt it to life.
“Well, I can promise you, Cooper is no werewolf,” Gwen snarked, wondering at John’s certainty and shifting the drowsy baby back to the crook of her arm.
“Course not, but the point of this little device is to reveal the location of all those who share DNA with a particular individual,” John’s face lit up in triumph as a tiny compartment revealed itself and a series of numbers lit up along a small screen.
John plucked a fresh paper napkin from the dispenser on the table, folding it into a tiny wad.
“Open wide there, little one,” John reached down for the sample from the infant, though he couldn’t resist copping a little feel on the way.
“Oi! Not exactly his cheek there!” Gwen playfully swatted at John’s hand as he laughed, pulling back his hand with a impish, wounded recoil.
“Can’t hardly blame a bloke—been lookin’ at em’ all day without so much as a tweak,” he defended with a smile.
“Just do the test,” Gwen rolled her eyes as she handed the slobbery napkin to the Time Agent.
A series of numbers ran across the screen after John deposited the sample in the container. After a few moments, they flashed consistently and held steady.
“What does it mean?” Gwen studied the obscure numbers, trying to solve the machine’s code.
John studied the series of numbers noting that most of them were in relatively close proximity to each other, a couple of numbers a little further away and one markedly distinct from the others.
The Time Agent who had traversed distance and millennia for a great many years laughed out loud at the simplicity of the alien device.
“They’re latitude and longitude numbers,” he declared with dancing eyes. “Most of your relations are in Wales, I take it?”
“That’s right,” Gwen verified, a few in London, an uncle retired in Italy and a cousin at university in Paris.”
“No dowager aunts in New Mexico then?”
“None that I know of,” Gwen bit her lip in nervous expectation.
“That son of a bitch—I should’ve guessed it,” John cursed, shaking his head at his shortsightedness.
“Course he would’ve taken up duty at another rift,” the Time Agent sighed and shook his head, “Paying his penance, I suspect.”
“Where is he, John?” Gwen demanded in her frustration.
“Rather large ranch in southeastern New Mexico. Won it in a poker game back in 1856. Well, at least one version of 1856,” John corrected offhandedly. “Hired a good immigrant bloke to work it for him, told him to keep the work in the family and he’d be back to check on it when he could. Profits went back into the ranch, building up over the years.”
“Southeastern New Mexico?” Gwen contemplated, trying to fit the pieces together. “You mean Roswell?”
“Well, yeah…near there anyway,” John replied. “Where did you think the aliens came from, luv?”
Gwen still sat there, shell-shocked at the news.
“Come on, grab an arm—we’ll be there in a few seconds,” John stood, bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.
“You are completely mad if you think for a minute that I’m going to jump time and space with a six-month-old!” Gwen declared definitively.
“Just space…not time,” John corrected with a roll of his eyes, but sighed resignedly when he realized Gwen was not budging on the matter.
“Fine…just how did you intend on getting there then?”
“In an airplane, like normal people,” Gwen insisted, slinging the black tote to John who caught the changing bag and automatically draped it across his shoulder.
“We’re not exactly normal people, luv,” John informed, tossing a few quid on the table to cover their tab, then taking Cooper so that Gwen could slide out of the booth, though he didn’t bother to hand the baby back after she stood, content to carry the six-month-old back to the flat to collect their things.
“Well, for today, we’ll be normal people who take airplanes to go to America with suitcases full of clothes and nappies,” she held open the pub door as John was carrying the changing bag and Cooper.
“Since were being so ‘normal,’” John snarked, “I guess we don’t need this lovely bit of psychic paper I pinched to use for Cooper’s passport,” John made as if he were tossing the rare necessity in the rubbish, only to be stopped short by Gwen.
“Don’t you dare,” she gave in with a chuckle as they returned briefly to the borrowed flat, feeling more hopeful than she had in a very long time.
After swearing that he would pop back and collect her other belongings as soon as they were settled, John was made to lug a mere four suitcases through Heathrow and numerous other airports along the way. Fortunately, the advantage to being part of one of the most secret organizations in the country meant that your average governmental bureaucrat had no knowledge of the Torchwood accounts that still remained active, and Gwen was able to procure the three pricey tickets with relative ease.
The psychic paper proved to be absolutely invaluable as well, considering John didn’t exactly have his papers totally in order, either. John groused that if they had done things *his* way they’d be there already while Gwen argued that if she’d left the travelling arrangements up to him, they might have wound up on Tendaris 4 or some such, checking out waiters and their “tentacles.”
After nursing Cooper, Gwen allowed herself a little nap against John’s shoulder, rousing at the sound of the soft melody he sang to the baby. Gwen was awake but kept her eyes closed to listen as the song wound to its close. The baby gurgled and cooed at John whose hyperactive disposition seemed to suit the little boy just fine.
“You like that…yeah?” John inquired of the baby playfully, pretending to chew on the tiny hand that Cooper had stuck in his mouth.
“Your dad can carry quite a nice tune as well, you know,” John continued talking to Cooper about Jack.
“Right handsome bloke…. Look just like him, you do,” Cooper’s smile mimicked the perpetually flirty one that graced John Hart’s face.
“Not to take anything away from your mum, of course,” John carried on as was his usual style, “Gorgeous bird, she is too…with a beautiful pair of great big—ow!” John flinched away from the hard pinch Gwen gave to the underside of his knee.
“Eyes…I was gonna’ say until I was so rudely interrupted,” John defended himself.
“Sure you were,” Gwen raised an eyebrow at the lusty Time Agent turned…nanny…of all things.
“Could you possibly not corrupt him before his first birthday?” Gwen sighed in defeat.
“Might as well get it out of the way now, luv,” John responded knowingly, Cooper gurgling his very vocal support.
(Early the following morning)
Jack Harkness surveyed the ranch from atop the red, rocky outcropping that rose from the pastures below. The clopping of hooves sounding from the south-facing slope was expected and commonplace. Jack did not turn round until the ranch foreman approached.
“Morning, Jose’,” Jack nodded to the familiar foreman.
“Hola, señor,” the middle-aged Mexican man greeted, there to deliver a report of the morning’s progress to his boss.
“We’ve moved the herd to the south pasture, capitán,” the foreman stated placidly, “and put the dos gorgojos back in their cells.”
“Good, just use the spray if they get out of hand. I’ll check and see when we can send them back.”
“Bueno, señor,” Jose’ nodded, nonplussed by the strange combination of tasks assigned him. He studied the disconnected, resigned look on his employer’s face, concerned once again at his solitary habits. “You come down and have some breakfast with the men, no? Huevos y salchicha?” the good-natured foreman tempted.
“Maybe later,” Jack’s gracious smile did not reach his sad blue eyes, and the foreman could only sigh in the futility of the repeated attempts to return Captain Jack Harkness to the land of the living.
“Adios…,” Jose’ grumbled to his employer, now lost again in his own thoughts. The foreman tapped at his horse’s flanks and clucked, needing only a slight pull of the reigns to direct the familiar horse back down the hill, leaving Jack to his solitude once again.
Jack continued to watch as the sun rose, splashing red and gold over the mountains. His meditations were broken by the sound of dirt and gravel crunching under the tires of an unfamiliar vehicle coming up the long drive and heading toward the house.
Jack moved his able mount quickly down the hillside, and picked up speed when they reached the valley, ready to head off trouble before it started.
Dark brows furrowed as Jack handed off his horse to a ranch hand, taking quick strides to reach the footpath that led to the large house. The time agent peered at the front plates of the SUV that blandly denoted Alamo car rental. Only the driver’s side was lit by the rising sun, and the curly, dark blonde hair and mischievous eyes that were illuminated caused Jack to reach instinctively for the pistol hidden at the small of his back.
Even though their last goodbyes were peaceful and resigned, Jack begrudgingly forgiving John for his part in Gray’s machinations, the blue-eyed immortal didn’t put anything past his long-time nemesis and lover.
Jack watched from a distance as John spoke to a passenger who was currently obscured in shadow and shielded by the employed vanity mirror. The driver then turned to look in the back seat, smiling as he twisted forward again, speaking once more to his passenger before releasing his seat belt and opening the driver-side door.
“Whoa, there, pardner,” John chuckled with a Western cadence as he approached his former and, hopefully, *future* lover.”Wouldn’t do to be shooting an unarmed man, now would it?” Captain Hart snarked with his hands halfway raised in surrender.
“*You*? Unarmed?” Jack looked at John suspiciously as he remained drawn on him.
“Airports these days don’t take too kindly to customers arming themselves,” John replied blandly as his hands went to his hips.
“You took a plane?...And a rental car?...,” Jack questioned, stunned at his fellow time agent’s irregular mode of travel, sliding the gun back to his waistband at the obvious absence of threat.
“Had a passenger…couple of ‘em. Didn’t fancy travelling the easy way,” John’s eyes shifted back to the truck as the passenger’s side door opened, the familiar brunette climbing out with a baby at her shoulder.
“Gwen…,” Jack breathed out and started toward the pair. The immortal’s progress halted suddenly when the six-month-old turned to face him, eyes identical to his own glittering in the sunrise. Stunned to silence, Jack cataloged every similarity to his own face, the obvious truth sending him to his knees, tears welling in his eyes.
Gwen moved toward Jack, but was gently stopped by John who had interceded.
“Maybe this wasn’t…,” the worried brunette second-guessed their decision to fly to America without warning, but her concern was stopped short by her companion.
“I’ll get him sorted, luv,” John assured, “Why don’t you and Cooper find the master bedroom—have a rest and give the little man his breakfast, yeah?” John waited for a resigned nod from Gwen. “I’ll bring up the bags in a bit, ok?”
Gwen gave a weeping, broken Jack a concerned, empathetic gaze before heading up the footpath with Cooper in tow, understanding the sense in John’s suggestion.
“How…?” Jack’s mind reeled with questions, and a fresh flood of guilt and regret stymieing his frozen limbs.
John squatted down beside his wounded lover, trying to catch the watery eyes that threatened not to see past the scales of anguish and lament.
“Found her yesterday…figured out where you were…she’ll tell you the rest later on, I expect.”
“I can’t…I couldn’t…,” Jack sobbed, looking to his friend’s eyes for understanding. “Couldn’t keep them safe…couldn’t keep them alive…,” the remorse that usually welled in daily silence burst into words as his old lover sat in the dirt, holding the immortal’s shaking form.
“You kept millions alive…,” John reminded, running his fingers soothingly through dark brown locks.
“Wasn’t enough…never enough…,” Jack wept at the losses of so many of those closest to him—the weight which had driven him to the solitude of this distant place. “I don’t deserve…,” the blue-eyed immortal looked toward his home with longing.
Captain Hart changed his tactics, knowing it was time to help his old lover shake off the self-loathing that had his knees ground into dust and dirt.
“We don’t get what we really deserve, mate,” the shorter man’s sky blue gaze latched firmly onto Jack’s. At his abrupt words, Captain Harkness mutely digested the weight of his lover’s wisdom, allowing John to pull him from the ground and help dust off the soiled clothing as they rose.
“Now it damn well doesn’t matter how long you think you have to be punished for the decisions you’ve made,” John stated unequivocally. “What matters is that your son and his mother have travelled halfway round the world to come and see you. I’ve only known him for a day, and I already know he’s brilliant,” John knew a bit of a challenge was the fastest way to spur Jack into action. “And you’d better hurry up and shag that gorgeous woman in there six ways from Sunday, or *I will*.”
Jack scoffed indignantly and straightened to his imposing full height at his lover’s dare.
John chuckled heartily before grabbing the back of Jack’s head and taking his mouth in a passionate kiss.
“Now…go get your girl.”
When John broke the kiss, leaving a dazed Jack with a questioning expression on his face, John merely smiled at his confusion, turning his lover back toward his house.
Laughing, John sent Jack toward the door with a playful smack to his sexy backside, “Don’t worry—I know where the queue for kisses starts round here.”
Jack looked back with a wicked smirk and a twinkle in his eye, when he was stopped short by the loss he felt in his pocket.
“My wallet?” he turned back to the career criminal in disbelief.
John called back as he went to retrieve the luggage from the rental car, “We’ve got a nursery to order, mate….”
DestinyC's New Fic
"My Brother's Keeper"