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Myfanwy 2

May 2018

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A Stitch in Time - Chapter Nine

A Stitch in Time - Chapter Nine
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.


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.





19 July 2008

Jack didn’t like Ianto going into that hospital without him, and he practically bounced in place as he and Owen waited for the dragon to return.

Ianto had suggested they wait outside, but Jack was incapable of leaving the building without his mate.   “You should head outside,” he told Owen, even as he began biting his thumbnail in his nervousness.

“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, Harkness,” the medic snarled. “Ianto’s my friend, too. And I’ll poke you with the biggest needle I have in a delicate place if you tell him I said that!”

Jack didn’t speak again, and left Owen be, grinning slightly at his comment.

Suddenly the entire building shook once more, and the sensors they’d placed around the hospital began to beep. Jack flipped open his wrist strap while he caught Owen out of the corner of his eye fiddling with one of the PDAs that was hooked into the sensor system.

“This is it,” Jack said, interpreting the readings he was getting. “This is the last big hiccup before the big tear.”

There was a flash of light, and they found themselves in the foyer of a version of St. Teilo’s that wasn’t on the verge of being knocked down. The area was clean, with chairs along the walls and a large wooden check-in desk blocking the way into the hospital proper. Two nurses bustled about the area, and Jack could see them and the patients waiting to be seen reacting to the effects of the time tear.

“May I help you gentlemen?” Jack turned in the direction of the question, and a nun in an all-encompassing habit was staring up at him from just a few feet away, her sharp eyes at odds with her caring tone.

“No, thank you Sister,” Jack answered politely, giving her an innocent smile. “We’re just here to visit someone.”

“They can help you up at the desk,” the sister answered, seemingly buying Jack’s act. She nodded, crossed herself, and then suddenly she was gone, and the ruins of the hospital once again surrounded them.

“What the hell?” Owen exclaimed.

“I don’t think hell had a lot to do with our visitor,” Jack couldn’t help but snark.

“You know what I mean! I hate time jumps.”

Another couple of minutes passed, Jack getting antsier and antsier by the second. The final tear would be happening soon, judging from the readings they were getting, and Ianto still hadn’t emerged.

Finally, he could wait no longer.

Jack stripped off his coat, handing it to Owen. “I’m not your bloody butler,” he exclaimed, trying to give the coat back.

“I’m going after Ianto,” Jack said, not taking back the coat. He indicated the garment. “That would be anachronistic if something should happen and we get stuck back in 1918.” He didn’t remove his gun, but then he doubted anyone would look close enough at the Webley to see anything wrong with it.

“And what are you planning on doing if you do get stuck?” Owen demanded.

Jack indicated his vortex manipulator. “We can use this to get back.”

“But I thought that thing didn’t work!”

“I deliberately broke it,” he explained. “I didn’t want the Master to get his hands on a working time machine. It would have been disastrous if he had. But it’s an easy fix; I just didn’t worry about it because I hadn’t planned on ever using it again.” There might have been a time when Jack would have killed to have his wrist strap working once more, but now…now he wanted to spend every moment he could walking the slow path with Ianto.   “And, if for some reason it doesn’t work, then at least Ianto and I will live long enough to catch up with you all again. I can’t let him get trapped by himself, Owen.”

The medic nodded, looking resigned. “Yeah, I getcha. Well, go on before I change my mind and decide to sedate you to keep you from going.”

“Get out of the building, Owen,”’ Jack ordered. “We’ll meet you at the SUV.”

“You both better be back here! I’m not gonna be the one to explain to Tosh why you got yourselves stuck!”

The sensors began alarming ever louder than before, and Jack turned away from Owen, trusting his friend would leave as he’d commanded. He took off running down the corridor that Ianto and Tommy had followed, the growing time energy now crackling against his exposed skin. He pushed down the thought that he’d lied to Owen, although it was one by omission: while he could indeed fix his manipulator it would take several days to do so, leaving himself and Ianto stranded in the past for as long as it was not working. After all, he’d wanted to make certain the Master wouldn’t just repair it if he got his grubby hands on it. If he made it too easy…so Jack had deliberately locked all of the controls out, except for the ones Toshiko had managed to get working, and bringing the wrist strap back into full working order would take time.

It really didn’t matter; Jack would make certain he and Ianto would arrive back just after Jack had entered St. Teilo’s. No one but them would ever know just how long they’d been gone.

But there was no way in hell he was going to risk his mate being alone in the past. Jack wouldn’t make Ianto live through the past ninety years all over again, not by himself. All they’d need to do was stay out of the way, as difficult as that would be.

And so, Jack ran through the deserted hospital, hoping it was toward his mate.

The final wave of temporal energy blasted through St. Teilo’s, and Jack wanted to flinch away from the shockwave. He managed to keep his feet as it swept past, although the pressure forced Jack to walk slowly, against the tide.

He found Ianto in one of the rooms off the corridor, the dragon curled up in a ball of misery on the floor. Jack knelt beside him, running a hand over the small scales on his cheek, and a single eye opened to look up at him. Jack gasped as he saw the gold swirling within them, obscuring the normal blue cat-like pupils.

“Jack,” Ianto gasped, his usual rumbling voice weak and thin, “I can’t change back…”

“I’ve got you, don’t worry.”

“Time is tearing,” the dragon continued. “It’s not stopping…”

“Tommy isn’t using the key.” Jack wondered what had happened; what had caused the young soldier to not use the Rift Key they’d given him. If he didn’t turn it, the world would tear itself apart. “I need to get to him.”

Ianto moaned faintly. “Hurts…”

“I know it does.” Jack leaned over and kissed the dragon’s snout. “I’m going to fix it. Change back as soon as you can, alright?”

The large head nodded slightly, as the time-swamped eyes closed once more.

Jack got to his feet. Tommy would have been in the ward, and he glanced around, trying to make sense of the constantly changing St. Teilo’s. Time was overwhelming everything, and both the past and the present were fighting for dominance, making the walls pulsate between whole and broken at a rate that made Jack almost dizzy to watch. He needed to find Tommy and get him to use the key before both time zones came fully into existence, because they simply couldn’t co-exist.

He took off down the opposite hallway, knowing that he would have passed the ward on his way in if it had been the way he had come. It turned out to be simple to find, even with the building under the effects of the two time periods trying to be there at once.

Patients were panicking, and the nurses and ward sisters simply couldn’t cope with the chaos that the time tears were causing. Jack dodged past one frightened young woman and then almost collided with another as he searched for Tommy among the other soldiers in their beds, cowering under the horrific noise and the twisting reality about them.

If it was making Jack feel somewhat ill, he could imagine what it was doing to the patients, most of them already suffering shellshock.

He found Tommy a few beds down in the ward, sitting up and clutching his thin blanket to his chest. He stared up at Jack with fear in his eyes…but no recognition.

Tommy not remembering anything of his time with Torchwood was actually the best thing that could have occurred, but not before he’d completed the mission. He must have forgotten what to do with the key, judging from the fact that it was lying on his blanket-swathed lap, seemingly forgotten in all the hell going on around them. It sounded as if there was a major storm going on outside…which wasn’t far wrong. Time was tearing itself apart, and the thread they needed to stitch it back together was too shellshocked to know what to do.

“Hello, son,” Jack spoke quietly, trying not to spook Tommy any more than he already was.

“Wh-who are you?” the young man asked tremulously.

“I’m here to help you.” Jack glanced down at the key. “Do you know what that is?”

Tommy shook his head in denial.

“It’s a key, and you have to use it.” He only hoped it wouldn’t be too late.   His memories of this time simply weren’t helping him; they were as confused as time currently was.

Tommy picked up the key. “I’m scared,” he whispered, his hands shaking.

“It’s all right,” Jack tried to soothe him.

It didn’t seem to be working. “I’m a coward,” Tommy whimpered. “That’s why I’m here.”

“No, you’re not a coward.” Jack sat on the edge of the bed so he wouldn’t be looming over the terrified soldier. “You are a brave young man, and it’s your duty to use that key.”

“But why?” he whined, his eyes scrunching up in pain.

Jack’s heart went out to the man…no, really just a boy, thrown into circumstances that would have terrified anyone. He’d seen action, been shot at, witnessed horrible things…and then he was snatched up by Torchwood simply because of a fluke in the Rift, kept alive for one day at a time every year for ninety years, seeing people come and go while he remained.

He could relate to that, actually.

“Because you’re the only one who can,” he answered. “Tommy, there is a young woman who is counting on you…a beautiful woman who cares about you very deeply, and who would be here to help you if she could. I know you don’t remember her, but to her you are a hero. She will carry you with her always.” Jack rested a hand on a trembling shoulder. “You won’t recall Toshiko, but she will you, and she believes in you.”

He felt guilty about using Toshiko against him, but Tommy had cared for her. Had loved her, but had never had a chance to be there with her, his own destiny looming over him like a boulder on a fraying rope. There had to something of those feelings within him somewhere, and if Jack could tap into them…

He knew that turning the key himself would not heal the tear. It had to be Tommy, the young man who was a paradox having lived whatever life he’d had during and after the war, and have been sleeping in the Torchwood Vault at the same time. He was the needle that would stitch time back together and save the world.   It had to be Tommy or else this simply wouldn’t work.

Jack could not risk even touching the Rift Key. His own body was flooded with temporal energy, since it was what was keeping him alive far beyond his span of years. If he attempted to fix this himself, that vortex energy would corrupt the matrix, and it could only hasten the destruction to come.

He had to convince Tommy that using the key was the right thing to do.

“You said she’s beautiful?” he whispered, his eyes pleading as he looked at Jack.

“Oh yes, very beautiful.”

“Will I…will I get to see her some day?”

There was so much hope in his gaze, that Jack wanted more than anything to lie to him, to tell him that yes, he would meet Toshiko, but he couldn’t. “I’m sorry, but no,” he admitted. “But if you turn that key, you will be saving her life.”

Tommy examined the ley closely. Shaking fingers reached out for the turning mechanism, and Jack held his breath as the key was finally turned.

Golden light wafted up from inside of the key, and the twisting of time began to ebb.

Jack smiled. “Well done, Tommy. Well done indeed.”

The young soldier nodded, dropping the key into his lap. “Thank you, Sir.”

“No…thank you.”

With those final words, Jack stood. He saluted Tommy, who returned it. “It’s been an honor to know you, Private Brockless.”

“I’d say the same, Sir,” Tommy answered, a faint grin on his lips, “but I don’t know you.”

Jack didn’t have anything to say about that, so he spun on his heel to leave the ward. Certainly Ianto would have been able to change back into his human form, with the healing of the tear in time. They would have to hide somewhere while Jack repaired his vortex manipulator, and he hoped that wouldn’t take too long.

“Excuse me, Sir?”

He turned back to the young man in the bed.

“Can you tell this Toshiko something for me?”

“Of course I can.”

“Would you…would you tell her I did it for her, and that I wish I knew who she was?”

Jack nodded. “I’d be happy to.”

Tommy slumped back into the bed, the Rift Key forgotten and half-buried under the blanket. Either Gerald or Harriet would collect it, and make certain it got into the Archives to be used in the future.

He was out of the ward and into the hallway before he realised that his memories had cleared.

Jack came to a complete stop, ignoring the ward nurse as she nearly ran into him. He grinned like a maniac as things slotted into place, and his past reconciled with his present.

He knew exactly what he needed to do.

**********

19 July 1918

The Torchwood agent known as Jack Harkness stared down at the sleeping soldier, looking like a child as he was curled in on himself, almost huddling under the blanket as if he didn’t want to be noticed.

He didn’t look like much, but then Harkness had it on very good authority that that was not the case at all.

The agent stood there, silently watching the boy sleep, his mind going over what he knew about Private Tommy Brockless. It wasn’t much; he was certain if he’d bothered to return to the Hub he could find out all sorts of things about him, but Harkness wouldn’t head back to report in unless he absolutely had to. He played up his status as non-contracted as much as he was able to, because while he had to work for Torchwood at this time he didn’t have to like it. Besides, he’d just gotten back from a mission behind enemy lines, and wanted to take some time to himself. He might not know anything about Brockless, but the agent was certainly familiar enough with shellshock and other conditions like it, having seen it far too many times to count, in both this time and in the future.

The soldier shifted, coming awake under Harkness’ scrutiny. He blinked sleepily, and then awoke completely as he must have realised he wasn’t alone. “Hello, Sir,” he said, sitting up and at attention as much as he could while lying in bed, and then saluting. “Did it work?”

“Yes, it worked,” Harkness answered, only able to go by the knowledge that he had…which was something about saving the world even though he didn’t remember doing it. He returned the salute.

He was favoured with a sunny smile. “That’s great then, Sir. I was proud to do my duty.”

This boy’s seeming faith in him tugged at something within Harkness, something that he’d long thought he’d set aside. He considered what the message he’d received had said, and he returned the smile but kept it a bit dimmer.

“You’ve done your duty,” Harkness confirmed. “And now it’s my turn to help you.”

The smile vanished. “I’m not going back to the Front, am I?” he asked fearfully.

“No, son,” Harkness answered reassuringly. “You will not be going back to the Front. I promise you that.”


Chapter Ten

Comments

Good Golly! This is a decidedly unexpected turn! I love it when you surprise me - I have the knack for sensing where plots are heading and I love that I almost never can tell with your stories. I enjoy them better that way. I hope that poor Ianto is alright and that Jack is able to reunite with him soonish rather than later. I love that Tommy doesn't have to go back to the front. At least that was the way I was reading it. Is Harkness talking to past!Tommy or future frozen!Tommy? That was where I am a little fuzzy. Looking forward to the next instalment! :)
Thanks! Glad you liked it! And glad I could surprise you.

Nope, Tommy won't go back to the Front, but what happens to him is in the next chapter. Past!Jack was talking to future!Tommy, and he'll take care of the poor guy.

More up soon. :)
Interesting twist! I hope the boys weren't stuck for too long.
Thanks! And we'll see if they got stuck too badly in the next chapter. Also with bonus Tosh!
Loved the update!! I always wondered why, after doing a service for Torchwood, that they didn't make sure that Tommy was alright or relieved from futher duty.
Thank you! Yeah, I was upset that past Torchwood didn't do anything to help Tommy, but this time Jack will see to it. More on that in the next chapter. :)
This chapter was amazing! I love all the twists and turns this story has taken, and I love the way you weave bits of the original episode into a verse that you've also managed to make very much your own.
Thank you! Glad you're enjoying the twists and my changes. More up soon. :)
OOh Tommy lives!!! That will be so nice of you..to give him a life..
Thanks! I couldn't just leave Tommy to die like a coward. That was just so unfair.
HOORAY!!!!!!
Thank you, hon! *bows*
I'm not sure that this is the end of the particular series, but this was a good ending for Tommy. I'm glad that he didn't have to go back and be killed for desertion because of his shellshock. I hope that Jack and Ianto made it back to their own time, but that might be a different story or chapter.

Lovely as always.
There's one more chapter, and it should be up soon.

I'm glad you liked the ending for Tommy, but there will be a bit more in the last chapter. I hated that Tommy got killed when he was actually a hero, and I knew I had to change it.

Thanks!

O

Ohh poor Ianto, i just wanna hug him. Hate seeing him in pain. Glad Jack did what ever he did to help Tommy but I'm nervous about what he will do with the boy if he isn't going back to the front.Loved it!!

Deb :)

Re: O

We'll see if Ianto is fine (but you know me) in the next chapter. Don't be nervous, you'll find out about Tommy also in the next chapter.

Thanks, hon. :)
Oh I loved that little surprise at the end. Brilliant!
Thanks! Glad you liked it, hon. :)
the rift blocke Ianto! argh.
fortunately Jack went to his rescue!

it will also save Tommy? finally the Jack of the time. but how he knows that he must save him?