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Myfanwy 2

December 2017

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A Stitch in Time - Chapter Three

A Stitch in Time - Chapter Three
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy, one-sided Tommy/Toshiko
Warnings: Language
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E3, "To the Last Man" and a small mention of the audio book, "Department X""
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note: Here's the Dragon-Verse version of "To the Last Man".  As always dating was taken from a couple of fan-made timelines, especially Ianto's Desktop, and facts of the episode from the TARDIS Wiki.  Also, in the actual episode, it says it takes place on the 20th, on a Friday.  However, the only day that falls on in 2008 is in September, so I jiggered the date just a little.

A/N2:  Sorry this was such a long time coming!  My brain was eaten by a big bang I had to write and which was hideously late, which is why this didn't come out a lot sooner.  Hopefully we'll be back on track now.  Thanks for everyone who PM'd me to ask if I was all right, and this chapter is dedicated to you.  You know who you are...  *grins*


SummaryIt's the time of year when Tommy Brockless, the frozen World War One soldier, is awakened for one day.  Only this time, things will be very different.




18 July 2008

Jack had arrived back at the Hub just as Owen was cracking open the cryo-unit that held Tommy Brockless.

He stood at the railing and out of the way as Owen – with Ianto’s help – prepared the young soldier for awakening. Every time he saw Tommy it took him back to his time during World War One, in the trenches and behind enemy lines, with explosions and gunshots and the screaming of the terrified soldiers as they faced their worst fears across battle lines.

Now, of course with the virtue of hindsight it was easy to acknowledge that many of those poor kids never were the same afterward, but Jack recalled at the time that those who had been sent back to the trenches were thought cowards if they weren’t back to fully-functioning soldiers after their stays in various hospitals. And the ones shot as cowards…over three hundred young lives lost to charges of desertion, when they’d simply been sick and unable to deal with it. It could have been worse, of course, what with thousands of death sentences handed down, but Jack knew that even the loss of one life because of shell-shock was one too many.

War was always horrific, but when it was paired with ignorance terrible things happened.   Jack had seen it all, and there were times when he still had nightmares about it. He, himself, had had to order innocent boys into battle, and it wasn’t something he’d enjoyed. He’d known commanders who hadn’t given a damn, but Jack had never been like that. His urge to protect the men under whatever command he had had been too strong.

Jack watched as the two worked down in the autopsy bay, lifting Tommy carefully out of the cryochamber and placing him on the metal table. Owen bustled around, firing up equipment and attaching leads to their patient. The medic glanced up at Jack. “We’re ready.”

“Do it.”

Owen reached over to one of his instrument trays, picking up a hypodermic which he placed against Tommy’s too-pale neck. He gave the soldier the injection, and the heart monitor beeped…once.

“Come on,” Owen urged, using his gloved fingers to search for a pulse, although Jack knew there wouldn’t be one; the heart monitor was still in flatline.

Jack’s heart clenched in his chest. That boy had been through so much…to lose him now…his hands gripped the railing tightly, not feeling the metal cutting into his palms. It would be ironic if Tommy didn’t awaken this time, not when he was certain this would be the final time the boy had to go through the agony of seeing another year pass him by.

“Damnit,” Owen swore. He stretched out his arm behind him, snagging the defibrillator that had been waiting for just such a time. He quickly charged the paddles. “Charging 200,” he snapped. “Clear!”

Ianto stepped away from the autopsy bed as the medic zapped the young man. Jack leaned further over the railing, almost willing the heart monitor to get a reading.

It was still in flatline.

“Charging 300…clear!”

Owen used the paddles again, and this time the monitor began beeping frantically even as Tommy’s eyes opened and he reared up off the table.

Jack let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding.

Ianto grabbed onto him as Owen tossed the paddles back in the general direction of the defibrillator. “Hold him still!”

“I’m trying!” the dragon gritted, trying to wrestle the obviously frightened soldier back onto the table.

Jack was down the steps before he was even aware, and he grabbed onto Tommy’s legs to keep him from kicking out. Irrational panic was lending Tommy a strength he didn’t normally have, and it was hard to keep him from flinging himself off the table.

“Get off me!” Tommy shouted, his struggles increasing.

“Tommy!” Ianto called. Jack hoped he would be able to get through to the confused man; it had been Toshiko who usually was the one to bring Tommy back around, and their technician wasn’t there to do that.

“Leave me alone!” Tommy exclaimed, trying to buck them all off.

Owen attempted to take a hold of Tommy’s flailing left arm, and got a fist to the face for his trouble. The blow sent him reeling back into the tray, and the falling instruments struck the tiles with a metallic clatter, scattering across the floor. A scalpel hit Jack’s foot, and he was glad he was wearing his usual work boots.

Ianto practically laid his body across Tommy’s chest, pressing him back onto the table. “Tommy Brockless!” the dragon called. “Calm down! It’s us! You’re safe!”

Slowly Tommy’s struggles ceased, his panicked eyes meeting Ianto’s, and then Jack’s. Then they closed, and his body relaxed. “Sorry,” he murmured. “It’s getting harder to remember every time…”

“Good left hook, though,” Ianto congratulated, removing his weight from the soldier’s chest.

Owen gave him a two-fingered salute.

“Do you remember where you are?” Jack asked, releasing his grip on Tommy’s legs.

“Yeah,” Tommy sighed. “Torchwood. It’s time again?”

“Afraid so.”

“Blimey.” Tommy slowly raised himself up on his elbows, frowning. “Where is everyone?” Then his eyes widened. “Are they…?”

“We’ll explain everything,” Jack soothed. He silently cursed himself for not having considered that Tommy’s first thought on the missing Toshiko would have been that she was dead. “Let’s get you some breakfast, and we’ll catch you up then.”

Tommy nodded. Owen patted him on the shoulder, and Ianto withdrew, in order to get the food ready. He caught Jack’s eye as he passed, and Jack nodded slightly in response. Ianto continued his way up into the main Hub, as Owen passed Tommy something to wear.

Jack watched as their guest slowly got dressed, a part of him not looking forward to telling Tommy everything.

And yet, at the same time, he knew Tommy would be glad that this was almost over.

**********

Ianto had set everything up in the conference room, furnishing Tommy with a plateful of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, and tea, and the rest of them with coffee. The soldier dug in with gusto, and didn’t stop until he was nearly halfway through, taking a break from eating with several swallows of tea.

“Sorry,” he apologised, setting his tea mug down, “but I was starving.”

“No problem,” Jack said, smiling indulgently. “It’s good to see someone enjoying themselves so much over their meal.” He took a sip of his own coffee, enjoying the bitterness on his tongue.

“I can’t be the only one eating,” Tommy said. “There’s enough here to feed an army.” He waved his fork around at the plates scattered onto the tabletop.

Owen didn’t have to be told twice; he grabbed several pieces of bacon, chewing one as he snarked, “Tea Boy makes a lovely wife.”

It took Ianto rolling his eyes for Jack to recall that Tommy didn’t know that his mate was a dragon. He hadn’t heard Owen call him ‘Tea Boy’ in a long time. “And as you can see, Owen is still a twat.”

Tommy choked on a mouthful of tea, and Jack had to lean over and pat him on the back.   “It might have been a year since I was awake,” the young man said hoarsely after he was done with the coughing fit, “but the pair of you don’t change at all.”

Ianto sat back with a self-satisfied smirk, while Owen stuffed his face with bacon, chasing it down with a large gulp of coffee.

“Tommy,” Jack said, once everyone had settled down, “there are some things we need to talk to you about, and I did promise you to explain.”

Tommy turned serious, setting his mug down. “Yeah. I’d really like to know what happened to Toshiko and Suzie.”

Jack nodded. “Toshiko is fine; you don’t have to worry about her. She had some family business to take care of and had to leave town for a bit. I know she wanted to be here, but this was too important.” It was the story they’d decided upon, and it was the truth as far as it went. Technically it wasn’t Toshiko’s family she was going to see…not yet, anyway. Jack had no doubt that, one day, the Swansons would be her in-laws.

The young man looked relieved. “Good, I was worried…”

If there was anyone at the table most familiar with Torchwood’s mortality rate, it would have been Tommy. He’d seen teams come and go in the ninety years he’d been a guest of Torchwood’s, but Jack and Ianto had been the two constants for him in the last seven times he’d come out of the cryo.

“What about Suzie?”

Suzie had been another constant; in fact, Tommy had met her before he’d Jack and Ianto, since she had been on the team that Yvonne Hartman had put into place after Alex Hopkins had murdered the previous team and Jack had gone on the run from Torchwood.

“Suzie…is gone,” Jack admitted. He still missed her, and still felt a shred of guilt over what had occurred with the glove, but he knew that she had made her own decisions when it had come down to it.

“I’m sorry,” Tommy said wholeheartedly. “She was decent to me.”

At least he remembered her as she was, and not the murderer she had become.

“There’s something else,” Jack went on. “St. Teilo’s is being demolished.”

Tommy looked confused. “But if the hospital is gone…”

“Exactly,” Ianto replied. “This is why we think this is the time.”

The young man’s eyes widened. “You mean the last time?”

Jack nodded. “When I was there to set up the sensors, I saw a nurse walking the hallway. One that didn’t belong in this time.”

Tommy swallowed. “So, this is it? No more freezing me?”

“We’re fairly sure, yes.”

“I…I don’t really know how to feel about that. I mean, a really big part of me is relieved that I won’t have to go through this anymore. But…it means I’ll be going back…to the war.”

He looked haunted, and Jack wanted to reassure him…but he couldn’t. What he’d seen at the hospital was the beginning of a strange flux in his memories; it was as if there were two different pasts involved, and he couldn’t tell one from the other. They were muddled, and the more Jack tried to reconcile his recollections the more tangled they became. He honestly didn’t know what happened to Tommy after sending him back, even though he knew he’d been present at the time of the original incident, freshly back from a Torchwood assignment that had taken him behind enemy lines.

He glanced over at Ianto, and he wondered if his lover was able to sense the disruptions to time. The dragon was sensitive to such things, and he’d have to ask when they got a moment alone.

“I know it’s a lot to accept,” Jack said, “but none of us know what’s going to happen when you go back. Let’s not go borrowing trouble, okay?”

Tommy nodded, but Jack could tell he wasn’t consoled.

He had a perfect right not to be.

“Eat up, Soldier Boy,” Owen said, slapping Tommy on the back companionably. “I wanna get your physical done.”

That seemed to snap Tommy out of his depression. “You wake me up once a year just to stick needles in me.”

“Owen was a vampire in another life,” Ianto joked.

“I believe it!”

“Yeah, keep that up,” Owen growled. “Just remember who does your physicals, too.”

“And remember who makes your coffee.”

Jack barked out a laugh. “Touché.”

“They really don’t change, do they?” Tommy asked.

It had only been three years for him, but Jack knew that Tommy held onto his memories jealously. His connection to them was the only thing keeping him from going off the rails, and while Jack had no idea what it was like for him, to wake up once a year and it feel like it’s only been a day, Tommy had seen so many operatives die too soon.

Jack himself hadn’t had much to do with Tommy in the early years. It really hadn’t been until he’d taken over Torchwood that he’d begun to make his own associations with the young man. That meant that not only was Tommy ignorant of Ianto’s true nature, he didn’t know about Jack’s immortality, either. They wanted to keep it that way, and not burden the young man with more than he needed to carry.

“We’re going to keep on taking readings on St. Teilo’s,” Jack added. “We’ll know more later on. If this is it, then we should know by this evening. In the meantime, Owen will give you your physical and you can decide what you’d like to do today.”

Tommy nodded. “I do wish Toshiko was here,” he said wistfully. “I’d have liked to have seen her again, if this is the time.”

Jack wanted to comfort him. They’d had no idea that things were going to happen when they’d decided that Toshiko should take this week to go to Newport. Toshiko really liked the soldier, but Tommy liked her a bit more than that, and it would have been awkward.

Still, Jack knew he’d have to call her and let her know, and give her the choice of coming back or staying with Kathy in Newport.

He dreaded it.

**********

“Jack, is something wrong?”

Jack leaned back in his chair, the entrance to the autopsy bay just in sight, where Tommy was undergoing his latest physical. “No, nothing wrong,” he reassured Toshiko. “I just have some news I thought you might want to hear.”

The sigh of relief was audible over the line. “What’s going on?”

Jack wasn’t going to beat around the bush on this. “Toshiko…it’s time.”

There was silence.

He was about to ask her if she was all right, when Toshiko spoke again. “Are you sure?” Her voice shook a little.

“They’re tearing down St. Teilo’s, and I saw a nurse out at the hospital when I was setting the sensors. We’ve also gotten some blips…nothing big yet, but yes…we’re sure.” He paused, wanting her to be able to digest the information. “What do you want to do?”

“Jack, I…damnit.”

“That was pretty much my reaction, yes.”

An indelicate snort sounded. “You did tell him that I was visiting family, right?”

“Yes, I did. But it’s up to you, Toshiko. I know the pair of you are friends…” Jack wanted to give her the choice. Would she want to see Tommy one last time, or let him go?

“I’d like to say goodbye, but at the same time…Jack, if this is his last day in the future, he might think anything I do would mean more than it did. I don’t want to lead him on, you know that.”

“I do, yes. And I respect you for that.”

Ianto appeared in the doorway, and the dragon mouthed ‘Toshiko?’ Jack nodded, and Ianto came into the office, shutting the door behind him. He sat down in the visitor’s chair, his old eyes looking sad.

“I don’t want to be hard-hearted, Jack. But I can’t help but think me coming back would just make things more difficult. I know Kathy would drive me back the moment I asked her to…” Another sigh echoed down the line. “Will he even remember me when he goes back?”

He stared at the sealed canister on his desk, looking so very innocuous and yet holding the secrets of the past within. Jack cursed silently, wishing the thing was open now, so he’d have more answers to give her.

The problem was, Jack honestly didn’t know. Would he recall everything he’d been through, or would he revert to the shell-shocked young soldier who had been a patient at the hospital when all of this had happened back in 1918? He wanted to give her the correct answer, but Jack didn’t have that answer.

It was a choice he had to make: to admit that he didn’t know, or to lie and give Toshiko some form of peace if she decided to live her own life aside from what was going to transpire in the next twenty-four hours.

It really was an easy choice to make.

“When he was frozen, his most recent memories were as well. Once the time shift is over and things are back to normal, he won’t remember a thing.”

His own memories of what had gone on were so jumbled, Jack couldn’t be certain he was correct, but this was to help Toshiko. She would never see Tommy again after tomorrow even if she did come back. And yet, the pair of them had gotten along so well that Jack couldn’t not have told her that the time shifts were starting.

Toshiko couldn’t help it that Tommy felt more for her than she did for him. That she’d moved on after a nightmare year with a woman who wanted her in her life, and that Toshiko wanted in hers. She and Kathy were good together, and Jack didn’t want anything to endanger that.

But would Toshiko coming back to say goodbye do that?

Kathy understood the nature of their work. She even knew what was taking place today, and why Toshiko had requested this particular time off.   So it wasn’t that Toshiko would have to hide anything.

It was Toshiko’s choice…the past, or the future. Only she could make it.


Chapter Four



Comments

ooh i always wounder what your going to change in your verse. Will the instructions in the canister be different or is Toshiko coming back? I don't supose you could just tell me??? :)
Yep, it just took me a while to get back here, but I'm back. *grins*

As for the instructions, I can't say. You'll have to see for yourself later on. I'm sorry, I don't want to spoil you. :)
I am glad that you are ok and that you are back! I was worried that RL was falling apart or something - it is much better to have an attack of the muse rather than any other.

Poor Tosh, she has been put in a really awkward position. She's in something of a no win situation which blows. I don't suppose that she can be honest with Tommy about Kathy because he is a good boy from the early 20th century, chances are gay relationships would be a negative thing to Tommy.

I am looking forward to how this works itself out and I am glad that you are back. :)
I'm fine, just horribly behind. I'm not going to be doing so many big bangs this year (I say that now, but I'm so very weak).

Tosh is in a bad situation, yes. The reason she went on vacation was to avoid having to lie to him, especially because of his feelings for her. We'll get her decision next chapter.

Thanks, it's good to be back. :)
Loved the update - I've always felt bad for Tommy, he was in a no win situation.
Thanks! And yes, Tommy is in the worst situation possible, with really no way out that anyone can see.

Glad you enjoyed it. :)
Great to know your alright, i have had a fellow author/friend who i spoke to a lot, she dropped of the radar for about 2 weeks, so i emailed to ask if she was okay, she'd just gotten out of hospital having been in a bad car accident, so yeah i had to ask if you were alright. She's fine now but she couldn't write for about 3 months.

But it's great to see you back and with such a great chapter too, I like the way you've got Owen acting, almost like he's reverting calling Ianto tea-boy, i never understood tea-boy really, because he makes coffee. Anyway, hope to see more soon, thanks for another great chapter.
Thanks, yes I'm fine...and glad to be back on this verse again. I've really missed it.

Wow, that's horrible! I'm glad to know your friend is okay.

Yeah, I never got Tea Boy either, but Ianto's used to it. And we'll see if Owen slips up or not.

Glad you liked it. :)
Yeah, she's fine now that was almost 2 years ago, but more recently an author whose stuff i loved sort of went off radar, her brother then posted an announcement a week later that she'd died of a brain hemorrhage, so yeah had a few bad things happen so i felt compelled to check :).

But i love your dragon verse and always look forward to the next chapter, makes me happy because i wait till i've finished work to read the new ones to make my day better :D.
I had that happen to me once, in another fandom. This author wrote the most amazing stories...and then suddenly her daughter posted that she'd died. She managed to complete some things her mother had notes on, but it left other stories undone. She was so talented and a really classy lady.

Reading after a long day is just the way I like to relax, so I understand completely. :)
I liked how you put the anguish and heartache both Jack and Toshiko were feeling over this decision. You wrote it so well. Now the really difficult question is if Tosh should come back or not. Thinking back to the episode, which you will be ignoring anyway, Tommy really was in love with Tosh and she with him. This Tosh is stronger and not dependent on someone to love her even if he only comes out once a year. As much as it would be nice to see the touching reunion between the pair of them, I'm not sure it would be for the best. He should be left with the fond memories he does have right now. Especially if time is rewritten and he remembers his time with Torchwood.
It's such a hard decision, and we'll see how things go next chapter. Yes, Tommy really was in love with Tosh, and everyone knew it. but it was never going to end well. And Tosh was on her way to loving him, but then the year happened and she met Kathy. It really was a doomed affair.

I will say this: I wasn't always convinced by Tommy not remembering once he went back to the past. We'll have to say how that works out this time. :)
Darn! I could kick myself for not noticing the long period between chapters..Glad you are ok ! Muses can be stubborn and need to be dealt with.

Poor Tosh, there is no happy choice for her in this..either way will bring pain
Don't worry about it, and I'm fine, just was really busy. Muses really are the bane of my existence, as much as I rely on them. LOL!

No, there never was going to be a happy ending unfortunately. But we'll see what happens. :)
difficult choice.
Poor Tommy.
He's all alone.
Toshiko must make a good choice for her, Kathy and Tommy.
I wonder what it is like drawing in the box.
It really is a hard choice. We'll see what Toshiko does in the next chapter.

As for the drawing in the box...that will be soon. :)
Nice to have you and the story back. Interesting to see the changes you make which now has me wondering who will be with him this time. As always looking forward to more.
*hugs*
K
xx
Thanks, it's great to be back. I really hate going that long without working on this, the muses get upset. *laughs*

It should prove interesting to see just who's picture is in the box...

*hugs*

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNN.... I can't wait to see who's picture is sketched in the canister!
I love the ominous music. Thank you for the soundtrack! *grins*

We'll see about that pesky drawing soon. :)
Argh! I don't know whether I want to kiss you for posting more or yell at you for leaving me with more questions than answers!

*sigh* I suppose I'll settle for the least violent option...this time. ^_~
Well, I'd prefer the kiss but if you feel you need to yell, go right ahead. *laugh*

More up soon, I promise. :)
You should stay with Kathy, Tosh. It'll only confuse the boy.
Yikes! Sorry, I just saw your comment! :(

Well, what Tosh does is in the next chapter, which is being written even as we speak. :)
I really love how you put Toshiko together with Kathy and i can really understand the feelings going through everyone. Hope Jack and Ianto can come up with something to help Tommy :)
Thanks! I'm glad you like Tosh/Kathy. They just seemed to fit together.

I do feel bad for Tommy, and more will be revealed in the next chapter. :)
Oh wow, such a hard choice to make...
Oh, I know... :(