Author: Milady Dragon
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto; Gwen/Owen, Owen/Diane
Warnings: Language, Violence, Suicidal Situations
Spoilers: Up through S1 E10, "Out of Time"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note: This is the Dragon-Verse version of "Out of Time". As usual, the dating for this was taken from several fan-made timelines and the TARDIS Index File. The information on the de Havilland Dragon Rapide (yes, that was the actual plane in the show, I didn't make this up!) came from a sudden spurt of Google-Fu and the ever helpful TARDIS Index File.
Summary: Three victims of the Rift come through from 1953, and it's up to the team to help them fit into the current year. Jack and Ianto find themselves sympathizing with John Ellis, and they take it upon themselves to help get integrated into his new time.
22 December 2007
Jack looked down from the gantry, as his team worked more with the new arrivals from the Rift.
Toshiko was helping Emma – or Deborah – with a mobile, showing her how to use some of the more advanced functions. Diane stood and watched, while Owen practically hovered around her. Ianto had told him about his confronting their medic over the pilot, and while Jack couldn’t blame the dragon for being protective, he hadn’t really seen the point. All it had done was confirm something that Jack had already suspected: that Owen had fallen, and fallen hard. It seemed a bit out of character for the acerbic Owen Harper, but then Jack himself had fallen in love with a two millennia-old dragon. Who was he to point fingers?
Ianto was up in the Tourist Office; there’d been a few complaints about it hardly ever being open, and a call from the Welsh Tourism Board – some lovely sounding lady named Celia Allen – had called to question Ianto about it. The dragon had managed to convince her that there had been a major plumbing leak in the office, and it had been better to close it than to have the tourists have to deal with rampant mold. But, it had meant that, either Ianto would need to spend a bit more time up there, or that Jack would have to hire someone to take over their cover full-time. Or giving it up entirely, and Jack didn’t want to do that. He’d have to discuss it with Ianto, and see what the dragon thought since it was his bailiwick.
Gwen was with John. She’d been bothered by his attitude toward Emma last night, and was determined to give him a crash course in Womens’ Liberation. Jack really didn’t think it would help, but he let her try. Having lived through the 1950’s the immortal knew just how hidebound that particular mindset could be.
They’d left an uneasy truce in the hostel the night before. Emma hadn’t wanted to leave her friends, and John had been reluctant to let the three young ladies go unchaperoned. Finally Jack had had to practically section them each to one part of the hostel, since neither one was willing to leave. Gwen had volunteered to stay, in order to keep the peace, but Jack had finally ordered her to leave, to go home to her boyfriend and leave things alone. She’d done so, but had practically demanded that Emma call her if anything happened. Ianto had rolled her eyes, and once the woman was gone had simply reassured the young woman that it was perfectly fine that she call him. Emma had been happy with that; Jack couldn’t help but notice that Emma and Ianto seemed to be getting along very well, as she was with Toshiko.
He thought that might have been the difference between Ianto and Gwen: Ianto, while perhaps overly protective, was more of a big brother to the displaced woman; while Gwen seemed to want to mother her. That was Gwen’s way, and it had been one of the reasons he’d hired her at the time; he’d seen it as her caring nature, and it had seemed very human to him. Now, however, he was seeing it differently, in that Gwen chose to ‘mother’ even when it wasn’t necessary. There was no differentiation in her as to when she should be overly caring, and when she should back off. It was something that could possibly alienate – no pun intended – a person who needed the latter and not the former. Jack wondered if it would do any good to talk to her about it, and realized no, it wouldn’t. She’d most likely see it as him not remembering how to be human anymore.
Jack sighed. Gwen could be such a fantastic member of the team, and yet chose to follow her own way. He only hoped that didn’t get her killed.
A sudden giggling caught his attention, and Jack realized that it had actually Toshiko who’d produced that sound. Diane laughed outright, and Owen rolled his eyes and headed back into the autopsy bay. Emma patted Toshiko on the shoulder in what could have been construed as a patronizing manner, pocketing the mobile, and spinning on her heel to head over to what had become hers and Diane’s workstation.
Toshiko smiled wryly, and turned back to her own terminals. Jack wondered what had gone on to warrant such a response, and figured he’d ask later. Shaking his head, he started down toward his office, where he figured Ianto had left him enough paperwork to last into next week.
He didn’t make it that far before Toshiko was calling to him.
Jack strode over to her, resting a hand on her shoulder. “What is it?”
Toshiko looked up at him, sadness in her eyes. “I’ve finally found John’s son.”
The nursing home was in a nice, quiet area, surrounded by trees and gardens. Jack drove them up a graveled driveway, toward the car park, where he found a place near the front entrance. Pulling Ianto’s car into an available slot, he switched off the engine and glanced at his passenger.
John looked ashen. The moment he’d heard that his only son’s current place of residence was an assisted living facility, he’d gone far too quiet. Jack could understand; he’d lost a few friends and lovers to old age over the years, and it never got any easier. One day, he knew he’d lose Estelle, as well as others, and he wasn’t looking forward to that at all. His consolation was that he had Ianto to help him deal with it, as he would the dragon himself when it was time.
John didn’t have anyone that close to him.
They both got out of the car; Jack had thought that the dragon’s vehicle was much less conspicuous than the SUV, and after a little wheedling he’d convinced Ianto to lend him the keys. His lover had extracted a promise that Jack obey the traffic laws, and Jack had done so…well, as much as he was able to. He’d at least stopped at all the lights; that should make Ianto happy.
John strode forward, as if his previous nerves had been conquered. Jack knew differently, but followed him inside, where they made their way to the nurses’ station. He stood by as John asked for his son, claiming to be a nephew, and the nurse on duty had given them both a sympathetic look before leading them into the facility.
The recreation room was bright and airy, but Jack could tell John only had eyes for the elderly man sitting in a chair by a large potted plant. Jack could see the resemblance between father and son; it was the jaw, and it would have been the eyes if Alan’s hadn’t been so dull. Jack’s heart ached as John was led forward, and the nurse introduced John to his only child.
Alan looked up. “Is Sally coming?” he asked, his voice trembling.
The nurse rested a hand on Alan’s shoulder. “Sally was his wife. She passed away a while back. I’m sorry, but this isn’t one of his better days.”
John looked aghast. “What’s wrong with him?” he gasped.
Jack knew; he’d seen it before, and realized that things weren’t going to get any easier for John.
“Alzheimer’s,” the nurse said, her voice very sympathetic.
“What?” he asked, his voice lost.
“He’s senile,” the nurse answered. “He doesn’t remember who he is most of the time anymore. He couldn’t live on his own. He’d leave the hobbs on, forget to dress…you know. He never had any children, so there wasn’t anyone to look after him.”
John went to pieces.
He fell to his knees beside the chair, one hand reaching out to claim his son’s. Alan didn’t even seem to pay attention; instead, he stared off into space, muttering something about Sally and how she hadn’t visited him in a while. Jack watched as John wrestled himself back under control, dashing the incriminating tears from his face. Jack knew that, to John, weeping would have been seen as a weakness; that was one of the major issues Jack had with that time, that men had been taught to keep their emotions tightly reined in. It was unhealthy, and there really wasn’t anything he could do to convince John that it was all right to mourn.
As he watched, John removed his wallet from his back pocket, taking several pictures from it. With shaking hands, he began showing them to an unresponsive Alan, explaining what they were. His son didn’t do anything but stare out in front of him.
They were like that for several minutes. Jack suddenly wished that he’d brought Ianto with him; he might not have gotten along with John Ellis all that well, but his heart was hurting for him. This was the worst possible thing to have happened; if Alan had been dead, Jack thought that John would have handled that better than this: his son, still alive, and yet lost to him forever. To have to see him like this…it was hell. Sheer hell.
Jack really wanted Ianto to be there.
Finally, Alan started, then looked straight at the nurse. “When can I go home?” he asked petulantly.
“I’m sorry love,” the nurse said patiently. “You’re not well enough yet.”
“I don’t like this,” the ill man moaned. “They took my clothes.”
“I’m sure they’re just in the laundry,” the nurse answered. “I’ll check on them for you.” She smiled at John, and then Jack. “Keeps me on my toes, this one does.”
She turned to leave, but John stopped her. “What did he do for a living?” he asked, almost timidly. “Was he in retail?”
The nurse shook her head. “I think he was a fireman.” Smiling at them once more, she left them alone.
The look of devastation in John’s eyes wrenched Jack’s heart once more. “That’s what I did…in the war…”
Jack didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what would possibly make this any better.
John turned back to Alan. He began to talk; little things, that had obviously had been between father and son. School, home, sports…anything and everything came spilling out of John as he tried so very hard to jog some sort of memory, something that would tell him that his only child was still inside the shell of the man sitting beside him. Jack watched, not wanting to break the spell, but knowing that nothing would bring Alan Ellis back to them.
Several times Alan seemed to recognize things, but the nurse explained that he would often recall bits and pieces of the past. John was undeterred; he kept talking until his voice was hoarse, and the flow of words began to splutter to a halt.
And then Alan looked at him, for perhaps the first time.
“Who are you?” he asked innocently.
Jack had to practically carry John away.
“It was horrible.”
Jack sat on the sofa, his head in his hands. He’d managed to get John back to the hostel, where the man had practically ordered him out. Jack had acceded, knowing he would need time alone, and had driven to Ianto’s, needing his own time to deal with what had happened.
“He was witnessing the end of his world,” he went on, leaning into the calming touch on his shoulder. “It’s the end of his line. And we can’t help. There’s no puzzle to solve; no enemy to fight…there’s nothing we can do.”
“We can’t help Alan,” Ianto said softly, “but we can try our best to help John.”
“I don’t know how.” Jack leaned back, looking at his lover. Ianto was seated next to him, dressed down for the evening in jeans and a pullover. “I mean, you and I have both had to go through this sort of thing, but at this point I’m not certain he’s willing to accept that we can help him.”
“I hate to think you’re right…but everything we’ve seen so far has led to that conclusion. He’s just not able to adapt as well as Diane and Emma.” Ianto slid a little closer, looping his arm around Jack’s shoulders. “He’s lost everything.”
“Which means he has nothing left to lose,” Jack added, leaning against Ianto, taking the comfort that the dragon was offering. “We’ll need to watch him. When a man has nothing left to lose…”
“There’s no telling what he’d be capable of doing,” Ianto finished. “We’ll watch out for him. I’d hate to have to send him to Flat Holm.”
“So would I, especially when, chances are, he’d never leave again. No, that isn’t the answer. We need to give him a purpose. Anything to keep him in the here and now.”
Jack knew this was the answer. But it was actually accomplishing it that would be difficult.
He only hoped they could do something…before John did something he – and everyone else – would regret.