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The Clash of Worlds: The Fellowship of Necessity
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 264
Chapter 12

They arrived at the entrance to the facility nine hours later as the sun rose over the tops of the mountains. Ianto's chest rose and fell steadily under Jack's palm, and his heart thudded out the seconds under Jack's ear. The three cars rolled to a stop side by side and disgorged their sleepy, grieving passengers. Martin rubbed his hands together and stamped his feet, grumbling, "Bloody scientists."

Orlando raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "Are we really so bad?"

A dark haired young man approached them, extending his hand to Orlando. "Orli, we're glad to have you back safely."

"I'm glad to be back," he returned, heartfelt. "I've been gone too long."

Rick stepped up beside him and gripped the newcomer's hand. "Brian Cox. You're a familiar face these days."

"Welcome back, Rick," Brian smiled. "It's been far too long since you were around these parts last. Now come on, you must be exhausted, and she's waiting for you."

They descended in a glass and steel lift into a world of concrete and chrome, shining corridors with polished floors and bright lights, and were led to an airy meeting hall, where Perdita Rubbia waited for them with her husband, Antonio Rubbia. She was the Director General of CERN, a tall, elegant woman with waist-length waves of silver hair and sea-grey eyes that somehow showed none of her age but all of her wisdom. Jack met her gaze and felt strangely young in her eyes, merely a child compared to her knowledge and experience, but then she smiled at him softly and the change lent a cherubic innocence to her face that brought the weight of his own years crashing back down.

Antonio looked around them again and frowned. "Tell me, where is the Doctor," he asked in a lilting Spanish accent, "for I much desired to speak with him."

"He fell," Martin answered thickly.

"It was a creature of shadow and light that followed us through Brussels," Orlando finished for him. "He saved our lives and those of all in the compound, but at the cost of his own."

"Oh, that's very him," Perdita smiled sadly and inclined her head slightly. "You are tired, I can see. You will be shown to your rooms, and a guide will come to you later to show you the facilities."

They stayed there for a week, regrouping, waiting for news and mourning. Orlando spent most of his waking hours in the laboratories and research suites, pouring over communications data with his colleagues and friends, and Martin surprised many by accompanying him when the situation permitted, enduring the ribbing he got from Orlando's friends for the company he shared. Jack was rarely seen except by Ianto, who bullied and coddled him by turns into eating and sleeping until he was ready to face the world again.

Late on their eighth night there, when Ianto finally fell asleep sprawled across the bed next to him with one arm draped over Jack's stomach, Jack eased himself out of bed and dressed silently, kissed the curve of Ianto's nearest shoulder and the corner of his lips before he slipped from the room onto the corridor. There were very few people around this late; those who were still awake were mostly in laboratories, staring at sensitive experiments and keeping themselves awake by the constant application of hot coffee. He found Perdita in one of these rooms, hands wrapped around a mug and hair pulled back from her face by an ornate clip to allow her to watch the computer programme running. She turned and smiled at him, patting the seat next to her. "Come in, Jack. I have coffee, although I'm afraid it's not as good as your Ianto's."

"Why do you think I married him?" he asked with a wry smile, sitting next to her and declining her offer with a shake of his head.

"It was for more than his coffee, I hope?"

"Well yes," he admitted. "Practicality, making a statement, desperate panic..."

"Love?" she asked.

"Well, that too," he smiled wryly and looked over at her. "We saw Alastair at UNIT's headquarters."

"Yes, he told us you were coming," she shook her head. "You are not half so subtle as you think, Captain."

"Twice as charming though," he joked. She just rolled her eyes and turned back to her model, so he moved his chair closer and looked over her shoulder. "Do you mind if I ask?"

"It's a projection of the future. A complex and flawed computer simulation. It could be right, but it could be wrong," she gave him an assessing look out of the corner of her eyes. "Do you want to know?"

"Will I cope with knowing?"

"That's rather up to you," she pointed out. When he nodded, she turned to face him fully and hugged her mug. "All these years you've defended Cardiff, and it will fall, Jack. They will use the people for slaves men to fight and to build weapons for them, and the women to breed them an army. They will take the children, Ianto's niece and nephew among them, to raise them as soldiers. Cardiff will become a munitions factory, and Torchwood Three will be the heart of operations."

His hands gripped the arms of the chair, and he knew that he'd paled. "I should be there, I should be there to protect them."

"You are protecting them, Jack," she chided him and pinned him to his seat with a glare. "That is what will happen if you fail. You are their only hope."

"But what if I fail?" he asked quietly. "Or what if I succeed but..."

"You will succeed, because you must," she reached out and rested her hand on his arm. "And you will keep him safe, because you will allow no alternative."

They were taken to Lake Geneva under cover of darkness, where they joined the boat that would take them to the Mediterranean by river. Most of them went below deck immediately to stay out of view and get as much sleep as they could. Rick, though, sat in the prow of the boat, chin in his hands to watch the water flow below them. He looked up when Anton approached and patted the bench beside him. "Couldn't sleep either?"

"No," Anton looked up at the sky and frowned. "I wanted to talk to you."

"Oh? Anything in particular?"

"About Jack," he turned to Rick and leaned forwards. "I know that he is our natural leader now that the Doctor is gone, but he has too many of his own decisions to make to make decisions for us as well. And, as I'm sure you have realised, he is... distracted."

"Distracted?" Rick turned a contemplative look on him. "You mean by Ianto?"

"Yes. He is too concerned with Ianto's safety, and that is understandable," he held a hand up to silence Rick's protests. "But you cannot tell me that you are not concerned by the implications."

"I would rather he concentrated half of his attention on ensuring that Ianto's safe here, than worrying if he's alright back in Cardiff," Rick sighed and squeezed the back of his neck. "But you're right, he can't lead us."

"I am worried," Anton confessed quietly. "These creatures have been ahead of us at every turn, and they will prevent us if they can. If this device that Jack carries should fall into their hands we will have no recourse, no way to fight back and our world will fall. If we could take it on, instead, to Italy, to the UNIT headquarters there, we could use it against them to destroy them without taking the risk of walking with it into their trap."

"The Doctor said..."

"The Doctor," Anton huffed. "The Doctor had some grand plan, but do you really think that falling was part of it? He underestimated our foe, as we all did, and he paid the price. We cannot pay that again."

"And I will not allow the risk of it going to Milan," Rick snapped.

"My father..."

"Your father is a good man, but I wouldn't trust any of the current establishment with it. They are not soldiers, Anton, they are bureaucrats," he huffed and looked ahead down the river again. "They would argue, they would discuss the benefits of using it, or hiding it, or sending it away, or even sending Jack with it. And whatever they chose, it would be clinical and wrong. Imagine if they chose to send Jack in with it? It would be too late, and he would be taken. At least they wouldn't let Ianto go with him, I suppose."

Anton glared at him. "You do not give them enough credit. At least they are not in charge because they have shown skill in killing."

"And on that note, I'm going to bed," Rick stood up. "I suggest you get as much sleep as you can before we reach Tel Aviv."

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