[ part 1 | part 2 | part 3 ]
- - -
Ianto wasn’t entirely sure what he’d seen in the theatre. Even now, back in their apartments, with Owen tending to the splinters and cuts on Jack’s hands, Ianto found himself hard pressed to put into words exactly what had happened whilst they’d been standing in the box overlooking the stage. Jack had only let himself be held for mere minutes before pulling himself together and leading them both back down towards the stage. He’d been cautious, warning Ianto to stay close just in case, but by the time they’d made their way onto the stage, Ianto’s EMF had silenced itself. There was nothing left to be found or read and Ianto was left wondering at the ghostly spectres he’d seen which had affected Jack so very deeply.
Upon their return, Toshiko had confirmed that she’d picked up on the readings, but had been unable to reach them through their Bluetooth during the spike, which she confirmed as having been a negative. Ianto sat with her whilst Jack went to wash up and he told her what he’d seen, or thought he’d seen, and how it had affected Jack. Tosh was silent for the most part, though her expression softened to one of sadness the longer he continued.
“Do you remember when Jack and I were trapped in the nineteen-forties?” Toshiko asked when he’d finished and Ianto nodded, looking away.
“I thought it might have been him,” he confessed, “but I wasn’t sure. I guess I didn’t realise just how- intense- things were between them.”
Toshiko took his hand. “Jack knew that the Captain was going to die,” she said, “I do think that played a rather large part in things. Not that I’m saying Jack’s love for him wasn’t real, it was intense, but it was the period, the knowledge it was his last night alive, the fear even that we might not have made it back home at all. Oh Ianto,” she squeezed at his fingers and he smiled gently at her.
“He’s never spoken about it,” he began then stopped as Jack made his way back into the lounge and Gwen and Owen both arrived back at the apartment after checking out a disused chapel in the west wing. It was a flurry of activity after that with Owen tending to Jack, and Toshiko updating her figures, and Gwen heading off to speak with the manager about any impending missing persons that might crop up. Ianto took it upon himself to make them all some coffee and to see about getting lunch ordered. He tried not to notice just how broody Jack looked as Owen finished with his hands and left him sitting with only his memories to occupy his mind.
- - -
“Joseph Raynor. He is- or was- a mid-thirty, married to the job, businessman on a weekend away with his mistress,” Owen smirked as if this was the best joke he’d heard in a long time. “The mistress, a Ms Everest swears she doesn’t know anything about his disappearance. Claims he got up to go to the loo and never came back out. When she went to check on him, she found the bathroom empty and she’s adamant he didn’t just slip out without her noticing. The disappearance happened around the same time you guys got your readings,” he looked between Jack and Ianto.
“The first person to disappear in this cycle was also male,” Gwen began, “A Mr. Walsh, recently widowed, early sixties, on his first weekend away since his wife’s passing. He’s said to have spent most of his time in the library or walking the grounds. Wasn’t reported missing until he failed to check out and the management were unable to trace him. His car and belongings are still here.
“Okay,” Jack said, “to sum up, we have two men and two disappearances so far. And coinciding with these are two negative rift spikes.” Everyone nodded their agreement. “Gwen, I know you said there weren’t many missing persons reports for the area but I want you to see what you can find regardless, and then see if Tosh here can’t match them up to some of the readings she’s managed to unearth for the Rift over the last decade or two. I want to know if there’s any kind of pattern going on here or off the Rift is just picking at random.”
Jack turned to Owen, “I want you to check on Ms Everest and the room she’s in. I want any readings you can still pick up if at all possible. Then check with the management and get them to give you access to Mr Walsh’s belongings in case there’s anything to find there.”
Owen looked put out but voiced no objections as he gathered his belongings together. Gwen was already on the phone to the local police department and Toshiko appeared to be standing by to receive any information they were able to send. Jack turned then to Ianto and stood, gesturing for him to follow. They collected their own belongings before exiting the apartment.
Ianto didn’t ask where they were going at first, and then the further they walked he realised he didn’t have to as they retraced their footsteps back towards the neglected theatre.
“I’ve been wondering,” Jack began as they stepped back into the musty-smelling room, “why is it that we saw an echo of the past- of my past anyway- but neither of us were taken? Presumably Mr Raynor never saw or heard anything, or if he did it was something his mistress wasn’t aware of. It could have been a warning. Or even a message.”
“A message saying what?” Ianto asked from Jack’s side.
“Perhaps one of us is next.” He answered. “Perhaps I’m next to be taken.”
“Or perhaps it’s as Owen said and the Rift is sentient this far out in the Beacons.” Ianto’s tone was wry and Jack looked at him for the first time since they’d left their apartments.
“I saw what you saw too, Jack.” Ianto said, “I don’t know why we saw it, but if its purpose had been to snatch you away then I suspect that you’d be gone. I do not believe that the Rift can pick and chose its victims. It goes against everything we know about the how the Rift works.”
“What do you think is happening then?” Jack asked, turning his body towards Ianto and Ianto shrugged, his gaze sweeping across the many rows of seats lining the theatre floor.
“I think someone- or something- must be manipulating the Rift.” He answered slowly and Jack nodded, thoughtful.
“Yet at the same time you don’t think what we saw could have been a message or warning of any kind?” He pressed and Ianto grimaced.
“I don’t want to think that it was either of those.” Ianto replied.
“Why not?” Jack asked and Ianto looked down at the EMF reader cradled protectively in his palm. It was utterly still.
“Because… because that’d mean we’re dealing with another Bilis Manger. Perhaps even Bilis himself. And I’d rather we didn’t go through all that again.”
“Hey,” Jack touched at Ianto’s arm and attempted a smile, “it’s not like we can open the Rift from here anyway.”
“That’s not even funny, Jack.” Ianto frowned at him.
Jack shrugged, “Look, all we really have to worry about here is avoiding being snatched by the Rift whilst finding a way to stop anyone else from being taken too.”
“That easy, huh?” Ianto snorted before turning suddenly to face Jack. “Why do you think you saw him?” He blurted out.
Jack opened his mouth to speak only to falter on the words. Ianto looked away. “It’s okay, you don’t have to-,”
“I don’t know, Ianto.” He squeezed at Ianto’s arm, “I honestly don’t know.”
“Do you miss him?” he asked then shook his head. “Sorry. Of course you must.” He looked up and offered Jack a hesitant smile. “Bilis was crueller to you than he was to the rest of us.”
Jack didn’t smile but he did run his hand down Ianto’s arm, reaching for his hand and squeezing their fingers together.
“Despite what he did to you, you still overcame the need to save him. Not like the rest of us. We all leapt at the chance to open the Rift.”
“That doesn’t make you weak, Ianto. And it doesn’t make me a stronger person.”
“I think it does. You spent an entire evening with a man you loved. A man I suspect you would have traded places with in a heartbeat if you could have spared him his fate, if in doing so you wouldn’t have jeopardised the rest of the world. You’re a braver man than the rest of us.”
“What are you saying here, Ianto? That then is over and done with. It’s history. This now, while I don’t know what this is, I do not think we’re going to have to choose between those we love and destroying the world.”
Ianto looked off towards the stage, cloaked as it was in shadow he could still see in his minds eye the image of Jack and the Captain dancing together and how simply seeing the vision had so deeply affected Jack. He wondered for one selfish moment if Jack would mourn him just as intensely.
Jack tugged on his hand and Ianto looked up just as Jack stepped in slipped his free arm about Ianto’s waist. Ianto automatically reached for Jack’s shoulder with his other hand, juggling his EMF reader even as he met Jack’s eyes in the darkness of the room.
“You don’t have to dance with me, Jack,” Ianto said softly, almost shyly.
Jack leant in and kissed briefly at his lips. “I want to dance with you.” He said simply, drawing Ianto against his chest and swaying them to a tune only he could hear.
- - -
“I’ve got a meeting at the Ystradgynlais Police Station early this afternoon,” Gwen said, rushing down the stairs the next morning whilst pulling her coat on, “if it’s alright to take the SUV?” Though it was posed as a question, the fact that Gwen had already scooped up the keys and was shouldering her handbag let the rest of them know that it hadn’t really been meant as one.
Jack just waved his hand dismissively in her direction, already knowing that Gwen had arranged the appointment in order to gain access to the hard-copy files on all the missing persons for the area.
“Keep your phone on you,” he warned, looking up momentarily to see her nod her head before slipping out of their apartment. He turned back to the hand held device Toshiko had given him to hold and pressed in a few commands she read off of an identical one she herself was manipulating.
“They should both be set now,” she said after a further five minutes of setting commands, she peered at Jack over her glasses as he held out his device for her approval. Toshiko smiled softly and nodded. “We’re ready then. And so long as you don’t split up-,” she shot him a pointed look, “-you’ll be warned in advance of any imminent Rift fluctuations.”
“You’re a genius, Tosh,” Jack grinned, purposefully ignoring her look, “I ever told you that?”
“Not nearly enough,” she answered, smiling again as Jack laughed and stood, calling for Ianto and Owen who were inspecting and packing their equipment for the day. They finished what they were doing before ambling over towards Jack and Toshiko.
“Tosh says we’re good to go. You two finished?” Jack inquired and they nodded their agreement. Owen handed over their Bluetooth devices whilst Ianto lifted one of the EMF readers from the coffee table beside Toshiko’s laptop.
“You’ll not need that anymore, Ianto,” she said, standing and fitting her Bluetooth.
“You’re not the one partnered with Jack,” he said wryly by way of answer and she grinned at him whilst Jack turned scowled.
“Jeez. That was one time, Ianto.” Jack rolled his eyes.
“One time too many,” Ianto returned, pocketing the EMF reader anyway before adopting a faux expression of innocence. “Just in case,” he grinned, dodging away as Jack made to cuff his arm.
“If you two are quite finished…?” Owen asked, crossing his arms. “Tosh and I are heading for the basement levels. I’ve an inkling to check out the mortuary,” he gave Toshiko a sly look, “and who knows, maybe we can play doctors and nurses while we’re down there, eh Tosh?”
“I don’t think they make nurses uniforms in your size, Owen,” she answered straight-faced and Owen laughed, stepping towards the door and holding it open for her with a grin which she dutifully ignored as she stepped past him.
“Keep your comms on,” Jack called after them. “I’d rather not take any chances, alright?”
“Sure thing, boss!” Came Owen’s blithe reply seconds before the door shut behind them.
“Where are we off to today then?” Ianto asked turning away from the door. Jack pressed a couple of buttons on the device he held.
“There’s a pool room on the east side of the castle I want to check out. The manager agreed to let us view it this morning, but we’ve only got until about ten o’clock before he re-opens it for the guests.” He pressed a few more buttons before looking up at Ianto with a wicked looking grin, “And maybe if you’re good I’ll take you skinny dipping,” he winked and Ianto flushed deeply when only seconds later Owen’s voice sounded through their earpieces as he made grossed-out hacking noises.
“If I have to listen to you two getting frisky I will kill you.” He promised after Jack told him to shut up. Ianto cleared his throat.
“Jack promises to play nice,” he said, his look pointed as he pointed Jack towards the door. “He won’t even make any impromptu passes or dodgy innuendoes for the duration of this search, won’t you, Jack?”
“I won’t?” Jack asked, grinning as they locked up the apartment and started on their way to the pool room. Ianto shot him another look, though this time it was coupled with Ianto leaning in and whispering into his free ear, “Not if you plan on getting laid tonight.” He bit lightly at Jack’s earlobe before moving swiftly away as Jack made to reach for him. He waggled his index finger and shook his hand with a ‘no, no’ gesture. Jack scowled.
“No, I won’t.” He said aloud, scowling deeper as they heard laughter coming from both Toshiko and Owen moments before Owen started making whipping sounds.
“Keep that up Owen and I’ll make sure you’re on pterodactyl duty for a month,” Jack snapped. Owen laughed, but he did shut up.
“You’re no fun,” he hissed at Ianto as they moved through the castle.
“Oh, I don’t know about that, sir,” Ianto replied, a twinkle in his eye, “You’re just lacking my sense of humour.”
“Yes,” he agreed dryly, “I’m sure you’re being hilarious.”
“I’ll say!” Owen joined in with a laugh before yelping as, Jack suspected, Toshiko whacked at him.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
“Stop being an arse, Owen.”
“I’m not being an arse!”
“Yes. You are.”
“Maybe this open communication proposal wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.” Jack said, pouting at Ianto who merely smiled brightly and walked on without a word as Owen and Toshiko continued to bicker back and forth.
- - -
It only took two more minutes of listening to Tosh and Owen before Jack actively decided to revoke his command on open communication.
“Does this mean you and Ianto are about to get it on?” Was Owen’s first question at the new order, “Wait, no! Don’t answer that. I’d actually rather not know.”
“Tosh, if you come back without him,” Ianto said, rubbing at his temples, “I will back you up if you say the Rift took him.”
“I’m just saying,” Ianto held up his hands in defence before reaching for his earpiece and tuning out Owen’s new tirade with relief. Jack actually sighed as the nattering in his ear died abruptly. Then he looked up at Ianto, grinning again.
“Does this mean I can stop playing nice, now?” He asked hopefully.
“No.” Ianto instantly replied, shooting him down and moving forward to push at the double doors leading into the pool room.
- - -
“Jack? Jack where the hell are you?” Ianto called out, his hand pressed up to activate his Bluetooth as he made his away across a terraced hallway a level above the pool room. He’d been pleasantly surprised to discover that this section of the castle had been built on as an extension rather than existing within the building itself. The whole room was lit with the natural light of early morning, with most of the east facing wall built completely of glass it served only to highlight the artistic stonework of the room as it circled around a deep set swimming pool located in the middle of the room.
It hadn’t been until he’d stepped further into the room however that he’d gasped in wonderment at the entirety of it. For, overhanging the entrance, and indeed most of the front wall, was a row of sectioned terraces; balconies much in likeness to those they’d seen in the theatre just the other day. These ones however, as he’d soon discovered after calling to Jack and heading up the nearest flight of stairs, had only gauzy curtains to serve as doors.
Ianto had known, even before he’d stepped into the first of the private balconies, that the view out into the gardens, and indeed the vaster expanse of the land stretching out across the Brecon Beacons would be more than breathtaking from their vantage point.
“Ianto?” A voice answered his call.
“Ianto?” And another.
“I was right behind you.” Jack responded seconds later.
“I thought we weren’t meant to be splitting up, Harkness?”
“We’re not,” Ianto griped, before, “Jack, you’d better not be sneaking up on me!”
“It really isn’t professional…”
“I’m not! I thought-,”
“Where are you?”
“Where are you?”
“Not you, Owen! Jack? Where are you?”
“I’m down on the main floor-,”
“-shouldn’t you be with Ianto?”
“They really shouldn’t have split up. Jack, I’m seeing small spikes of activity at your location.”
“I’m not getting any readings.”
“My EMF reader isn’t picking up anything either,”
“Did you check the batteries?”
“Owen was supposed to have done that.”
“I did! Thank you very much.”
“You should have double checked.”
“I did, actually.”
“Cheers, guys. So much for the trust, eh?”
“You can’t really blame us,”
“Well, it is you…”
“I can’t believe you-,”
Silence seemed to echo around all four of them as they instantly stopped their jumble of questions and comments.
“Okay. Ianto, I was right behind you,” Jack started, his voice crisp and clear over Ianto’s earpiece, “but I though I saw something rush past me, by the time I turned back to you, you’d disappeared.”
“You could just have said,” Ianto grumbled and moved out of the first balcony.
“I only turned around for a minute!” Jack stressed. “You should have waited.” He paused. “Where are you now?”
“On the first floor landing, up by the balconies.”
“How did you get up there?” He could almost hear the frown in Jack’s voice.
“I walked up the stairs?” Ianto answered as if it were the dumbest question he’d ever had to answer. Owen could be heard sniggering over the Bluetooth.
“Right,” came Jack’s clipped answer to that. “I’m coming up.”
“Careful he’s not up to his usual tricks, Ianto!” Owen crowed before yelping out Toshiko’s name.
“Stop teasing, Owen, and help me get this door open.”
“Yeah well, I was just saying!”
“Yes well, just don’t.”
“Just so you know, if you try to jump me this time? I won’t hesitate to shoot you.”
Owen laughed and taunted, “you’d probably miss him, tea-boy!”
Ianto smiled to himself, “But I’ve a full clip to aim with.” He answered sweetly.
“You wouldn’t really shoot me would you?” Jack asked, a smile to his voice.
“Jack, if you pull that same stint on me, I will empty the fucken cartridge into your skull.”
And Jack laughed outright at that, “Well then it’s a real good thing I can’t die.”
“Oh, I don’t want you dead, Jack,” Ianto exclaimed, “but a whole lot of pain wouldn’t go amiss, and I’m sure you’d feel-,” from the corner of his eye, Ianto thought he saw something rush by and stopped speaking abruptly. His gun was in his free hand before he’d finished turning in the direction he’d seen the movement come from.
“I swear to god, Jack, if that’s you I really will shoot you!” he hissed and heard all manner of cursing and exclamations coming through his earpiece.
“Shut up!” He hissed again, and inched slowly forward. His heart was a lump in his throat and already the fingers gripping at his gun were slicking themselves with adrenaline-induced sweat. He crept into one of the enclosed balconies, twisting to and fro to ensure that no one was hiding to the sides, waiting to spring on him the moment he turned direction. There was no one in the small space; it was filled only with two chaise longue couches pressed up against either wall.
“Ianto?” Jack’s tone was soft but urgent, “What the hell is going?”
“I thought I just saw something move past me. But there doesn’t seem to be anything in here.”
“In where? Ianto where are you?”
Ianto opened his mouth to answer when suddenly his EMF reader started flashing wildly, emitting a high-pitched wail that startled him, causing him to jump with fright.
“Jack…” He called out, trying to control the tremor in his voice, “I don’t mean to alarm you but my EMF reader just lit up like it’s Guy Fawkes Night.”
“I’m getting readings, Ianto!” Toshiko’s voice sounded urgently and Ianto felt his mouth go unbearably dry. “The Rift’s just spiked, something’s come through in your location.”
“Ianto, what’s your position?”
“First floor, balcony in the middle over looking the pool. Jack…”
“I’d get out of there now if I were you, mate.”
“Ianto, I’m coming up the stairs on the left, I can’t see you!”
“I’m…” Ianto had just moved to step out of the room when someone stepped into the entranceway blocking his path. He sucked in a startled breath before releasing a strangled moan as the same someone before him seemed to morph and merge, its first appearance altering until…
“Oh my god,” he gasped as pale skin turned to cinnamon brown and long, dark hair shrunk up to a jet-black crop.
“Ianto,” The new form called, reaching out towards him and Ianto stumbled backwards away from the woman approaching him. He couldn’t even speak. Someone was screaming his name over his earpiece. More than one someone. It all sounded like a wordless buzz, an inconsequential din compared to the rush of blood assailing his senses as- oh god, oh god- Lisa, his beloved Lisa, appeared to stand before him.
He opened his mouth to call her name. To call Jack’s name. But before the words could form, the vision before him was breaking up, dispersing itself into a cloud of blackened mist that hovered momentarily before him until with a whoosh and a gurgled scream it rushed at him. The last thing he heard was screaming and vaguely he wandered if it was his own. Then everything went black.
- - -
“Jesus, Ianto, why didn’t you answer me?” Jack snapped as he stepped hurriedly into the middle alcove only to find Ianto standing up at the edge, his back to Jack as he stared out over the pool room. Moving forward, he both felt and heard the crunch of something underfoot and looked down to see that Ianto’s earpiece was now nothing more than a crumpled lump of parts beneath his boot.
“Ianto?” Jack repeated, looking up and reaching for his shoulder. Ianto spun suddenly to face him and Jack jerked his hand back in surprise, watching as Ianto smiled brilliantly at him, all teeth and wild eyes but still not so much a whisper of words in reply.
Jack frowned at him, a prickle of unease trailing like fingers along his spine, and he felt the hairs of the back of his neck rise up in warning as Ianto- like a puppet being cut from its strings- stumbled backwards on jerky legs, his knees bending in an awkward jump that forced him up onto the railing and Jack launched himself forward without thought, his hands reaching desperately as, still with that goddamned smile upon his face, Ianto was thrown- pulled- from the balcony, his body arching with imagined grace before smacking full-force into the swimming pool below.
“Ianto!” Jack screamed after him, mentally wincing at the sound of Ianto’s body hitting the water before sinking swiftly like stone beneath the shockwaves of his impact. Jack shouted his name again, shrugging his coat in an instant and pushing himself up onto the railing, he hit quickly at his Bluetooth, reactivating it and calling for Toshiko and Owen to hurry their arses before he wrenched it from his head, throwing it carelessly behind him before bringing his hands together and launching himself from the balcony in an awkward dive.
He hit the water with a splash, bubbles of air rushing past his searching eyes as he peered through the pool water in search of Ianto’s body. He couldn’t see a damned thing. He resurfaced, gulping a quick lungful of water before sinking back beneath the surface and squinting for any sign of Ianto at all. Jack tried desperately not to panic, first when he found nothing and then when he caught sight of Ianto floating, unmoving, paces away from him. Jack swam for him, fingers clasping desperate fistfuls of Ianto’s jacket and tugging him upwards, their heads breaking the surface of the water.
“Ianto! Ianto, please…” Jack gasped out, clasping Ianto to him as he tread water, dragging them to the edge, his boots finally finding purchase upon the bottom of the pool. Ianto’s head lolled back in his arms and Jack shook him for a response, panic rising like bile in his throat as he shifted Ianto’s body and pulled his head forward, catching Ianto’s mouth and kissing at his cold lips. He choked back a moan as he moved them both slowly up the length of the pool, intent on reaching the railings that would allow him to carry Ianto out of the water.
“Please, Ianto,” Jack pleaded; pressing his mouth to Ianto’s again, pressing as much of his desperation into his exhale of breath as he could. He’d done this before. He could do this again.
“Just breathe damn you!” He cursed, breathing heavily as he half walked, half swam them onwards. He clasped Ianto against him, careful to keep his head up and out of the water. Where the fuck were Owen and Toshiko? He looked down at the paleness of Ianto’s face and tried to swallow back the lump in his throat. He dipped his head for a third and- no. Just no.- he pinched at Ianto’s nose and kissed him hard, exhaling deeply into the slackness of Ianto’s mouth. He felt the body in his arms twitch, and suddenly hands were upon his face and Ianto’s mouth was moving against his in return. Jack’s eyes sprang upon, meeting the clear blue of Ianto’s stare, their lips still joined.
Jack wrenched his mouth away, his lips mouthing soundless words of disbelief as Ianto’s whole face suddenly split into a grin. Jack felt something more than shock and panic as Ianto reached for him again, kissing at his un-participating lips. Jack felt confusion, and anger, as the man he’d clung so anxiously to showed not so much as a hint that he’d just very nearly downed.
“What the fuck are you playing at?” He growled out, shoving at Ianto who only held on all the more tightly. Ianto grinned at him. His legs lifting to wrap around Jack’s waist as his arms did for Jack’s shoulders.
“Don’t be angry,” he purred against Jack’s lips with quick, darting kisses. Jack turned his face away with a hiss of displeasure.
“Angry?” He shouted, glaring at Ianto, “I’m going to kill you myself! Have you any idea what the hell you just put me through? I thought you’d died, you bastard! What the hell were you thinking?”
“Quid pro quo, Jack,” Ianto smiled, hands moving to cup tightly at Jack’s face, his fingers digging into the flushed skin of his cheeks, “quid pro quo.” And he pressed forward, mouth sucking hard and the thin press of Jack’s lips as he stood, tense and unmoving beneath the assault. He flinched, feeling Ianto’s teeth slicing at his bottom lips, biting sharply at the flesh and dragging it, unwillingly, between his own lips to lave seductively at it with his tongue. He gave an exaggerated moan and Jack’s eyes narrowed, watching as Ianto watched him even through his ministrations.
Under any other circumstances, Jack was sure he’d have found this side of Ianto unbelievably erotic, but here and now, after the fright he’d just caused (and not only to Jack himself), Jack felt only the thrum of anger rushing through his blood. He dug his fingers into the flesh of Ianto’s sides and squeezed painfully tightly, his heart stuttering as Ianto pulled his mouth away to laugh and moan simultaneously and Jack closed his eyes to the sound of it, realising- finally realising- that this was not his Ianto, this was not his-
“Jack!” Owen’s voice rang through the room and Jack’s eyes sprang open. He flailed momentarily in the water, finding himself suddenly and worryingly alone in the pool.
“What the-?” He twisted around, knowing no one could possibly be behind him but needing to check anyway. Where was he? Where had he? Oh… oh god no…
“Owen! Can you see him? Where is he?” He swam in circles, peering into the water as if he expected to- wanted to- see Ianto floating there beneath the surface.
“Jack, I can’t see anyone,” Owen called, hurrying round to the side of the pool where Jack was treading.
“He was just here! I saw him, he was just-,”
“Jack!” Toshiko cried out and he looked back towards the entranceway into the pool room, seeing Toshiko standing at the edge and pointing off to his left. He turned; gaping as a strange light seemed to bubble up from a small section of the pool, the water gurgling and frothing as it seemed to grow brighter and brighter- rising from beneath the waves it caused before flashing bright enough to burn his eyes.
He cried out, his arm raising to protect him from the glare, and Jack heard Owen and Toshiko cry out at the glare also.
“Ianto!” Toshiko’s was the first scream he heard and Jack dropped his arm. He didn’t need to look at Toshiko to know that she would be looking to the source of the light. Jack didn’t even try to make sense of what just happened as he caught sight of the body floating face down in the water and launched himself with desperate strokes in the same direction.
Reaching it, he grabbed and turned the body, he tried not to recognise Ianto’s face as he pulled him into his arms, one hand cupping itself beneath Ianto’s chin in a bid to keep his face from the water as he swam them both towards the closest edge where Owen’s hands were already waiting to lift his limp body out of the water. Toshiko was at his side also, her face drastically paled as she helped lie Ianto on the ground.
“Tosh, I need you to feel for a pulse,” Owen started, his voice urgent but commanding and she complied in due swiftness and without hesitation, her fingers pressing at Ianto’s neck and nodding frantically when she managed to locate a flutter of a heartbeat.
“Good, now I need you to help me with the CPR,” he said, his hands slotting together on Ianto’s chest. He began to compress, calling out the number of presses until at five he called for Toshiko to breathe. She tried not to hesitate, her eyes sliding to Jack who was just managing to pull himself out of the water, his body rolling onto the stonework before twisting and crawling towards them.
“Tosh!” Owen’s voice was sharp as he clicked his fingers before her face, “I can’t do this myself. Now, breathe!”
She nodded, jaw clenched tight in worry as she tipped Ianto’s head back, opening his mouth and pinching his nose closed. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and pressed her mouth over Ianto’s, exhaling as much of her breath into him as she could manage. Owen had restarted the chest compressions before she’d even pulled her mouth away. She felt her heart flitter in her chest and a burning start in both her throat and her eyes as she looked down into Ianto’s lifeless face.
“-three,” pause, “-four,” pause, “-five, Tosh!” And Toshiko dipped her head to breathe into Ianto’s still mouth again. She felt a hand land upon her shoulder and when she pulled back it was to see Jack beside her. His face appeared expressionless, but his eyes were darkened with the emotion he was trying to keep hidden, tucked away deep inside himself. Toshiko bit at her lips and turned her face away, her eyes landing on Owen’s hands as they pressed forcefully against Ianto’s chest.
“Breathe!” He called out and Toshiko moved again, breathing into Ianto’s mouth.
“Come on, Ianto,” Owen huffed between counts, and Toshiko felt her fear and grief rising. Jack’s fingers squeezed more tightly at her shoulder, gently easing her to the side and taking her place, reading to perform the kiss of life at Owen’s next call.
It came and went, and still nothing from Ianto.
“Jack-,” Owen began, still working the compressions.
“No!” Jack snapped, hearing everything Owen hadn’t yet said in the tone of his voice. “Don’t you dare, don’t any of you dare-!” don’t give up on him. He couldn’t say the words, but they all knew what he meant.
“Breathe.” Owen called, his voice tight. Jack breathed, and breathed, and then again until finally- oh god, oh thank god- Ianto coughed, water spewing up out his mouth and Owen was quickly turning him onto his side so that he could vomit up ever last lungful he’d managed to swallow.
Toshiko cried out, tears falling now as Jack cradled Ianto’s head and rubbed his back and urged him to keep breathing, telling him he was okay, that everything was alright now. Ianto shuddered on the ground, still coughing, his face flushing with blood and colour, but he was no longer spitting up water.
“Ianto?” Jack called. Ianto shook a little but his eyes were closed and he gave no indication that he had heard. He looked to Owen in his distress only to receive a shake of the head.
“He’s breathing at least,” Owen said, “let’s get him back to the apartment.”
Jack nodded, pulling Ianto to him and lifting him into his arms. Owen helped him stand on shaken legs and he could have cried himself when Ianto’s head moved itself to lay against his chest, his fingers fisting loosely against the sodden fabric of his shirt.
“Tosh, can you-,” Toshiko pushed herself up, tears still falling from her eyes. Owen slung an arm around her shoulders, leading them around the poolside. Jack looked pained even as he asked, standing by the double doors leading out of the room if one of them would run up to the balconies and get his coat and the equipment they’d left up in the third alcove. Toshiko nodded her head, wiping at her eyes and hurrying away before Owen would offer instead. She returned minutes later, their gear already slipped carefully into the bag slung around her shoulder and Jack’s coat in her arms.
Without prompting, Owen helped Toshiko tuck the coat over Ianto’s body. He placed one hand on Jack’s shoulder, and wrapped the other around Toshiko before leading them all out of the pool room and back towards their apartment rooms.
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[ Onwards to Part 3... ]
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