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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Fellowship of Necessity
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 300
Chapter 7

The first things he was aware of were soft sheets and a heavy duvet, a mattress with just too much give and a blindfold across his eyes. He reached out as memories slotted into place and pushed himself up when his hand found only empty bed. "Ianto?"

"Oh trust you," a chair creaked and he was aware of a very familiar someone bending over him, hands touching his temples. "He's barely left your side, so of course you'd pick a moment when he's gone for a shower to wake up. Do us all a favour and pretend to be out of it when he gets back?"

"Doctor?"

"Who else? Now close your eyes, Jack, we need to see if this has worked." He sighed, and choked, and finally remembered to close his eyes behind the blindfold, rather than try to stare at the Doctor despite the fabric. Cool fingers that was a relief, as everything had been too hot against his skin before, although he couldn't have let go of Ianto if he'd tried slipped to the edge of the blindfold and pulled it away gently, but he could feel the elastic across the back of his head still and it was clearly there waiting, just in case. "Now open your eyes slowly."

He did so, looking away from the light he could see even through his lids, then slammed his eyes shut again. "Bright."

"Oh Jack..."

"No, not the same," he hurried to reassure him. "Just... like coming out of a dark place into sudden light. That sort of bright." He opened his eyes again and found the Doctor, then sagged back into the pillows. "No offence, but you're not the first thing I wanted to see."

"You close your eyes then, and I'll go fetch him, and he can tell you when to open them again."

"Thank you," he did as advised and leaned back into the pillows, which immediately fluffed up around his head again and tried to eat him.

The door creaked open once, but didn't close. He turned his face into the cool pillows and relaxed into them, listening out for the Doctor or Ianto's return. Eventually he heard footsteps coming down the corridor and the door creaked shut again, clicking firmly, and he smiled, knowing from that without having to look that it was Ianto. "I'm informed that you can see again."

"I can," he confirmed, fluttering his eyes open dramatically to look up at Ianto, who was standing somewhat awkwardly at the end of the bed. "Good to see you again."

"Glad to hear it."

Jack sighed and held his hand out. "Come over here. Please?"

Ianto sat on the edge of the bed and put his hand into Jack's, then yelped slightly when Jack tugged and Ianto landed in his lap. "Jack..."

"Let me," Jack pleaded softly, carding his fingers through Ianto's damp hair. "I've not been able to see you for days," Ianto tensed against him and he rubbed at his shoulders. "How long have we been here?"

"A week," Ianto shifted his head onto Jack's thigh and nearly purred whilst Jack petted him. "And you just... we couldn't wake you up on the boat, or afterwards. You just lay there, and you were so cold. I couldn't feel the change at first, but then you started to warm up. That was when we knew you were recovering, when you started to..."

"Ianto," Jack smoothed his hand over his shoulders again, chasing a tremor.

"Am I allowed to admit that I was scared you'd never get better?" Ianto choked out, trying desperately not to cry. "Because I was. I didn't... I would have stayed with you forever, but you would have hated it."

"Ianto, you couldn't..."

"If you were blind, Jack... If something like that happened to you, I know you'd cope, because you always do, but I wouldn't be able to leave you to cope alone. If you asked it of me, or if I just couldn't leave you, I'd stay with you forever. I don't know how I'd do it, but I'd make it happen."

"You can't, you know I'd never ask that of you. It's hell, Ianto."

"Even with me?" he asked tiredly, not opening his eyes.

"No," the tenderness with which he cupped the back of Ianto's neck and brushed his thumb over his cheek was a juxtaposition with the fierceness of his tone. "No, with you it's different."

"Then if you were there, why would it be hell for me?"

Jack couldn't think of a response to that, except to pull Ianto up the bed through a mixture of gentle persuasion and brute force, until he could drag him under the quilt and wrap his arms around him, burrowing his face into his neck. "Please don't do that for me. Not just for me."

When he opened his eyes again, he could see that Ianto understood what Jack was trying to say, that his conscience couldn't bear that. "Whether I live or die, it won't be your fault, Jack. Unless you pull the trigger yourself, in which case something must have gone very dreadfully wrong anyway."

"I never would. You were the only one they trusted me with when they thought that I wasn't entirely me."

"That's the problem with the civil partnership vows," Ianto mused, rubbing his thumb over Jack's hand. "You didn't say all that stuff about to love and honour and cherish and protect. But you meant it, I always knew that you meant what you weren't saying."

"That's... that's good," he settled in against Ianto again. "Do we have to move?"

"Eventually," Ianto sighed, leaning his head against Jack's forehead and rubbing their noses together. "But not yet."

The Doctor managed to prescribe bed rest and minimal disturbances for Jack for the next two days, aided and abetted by Owen and Martha, who had shown up unexpectedly because her UNIT base had been cleared to make it less of a target for the invading forces. He felt guilty about it, knowing that the world was coming more and more under the thumb of an invading alien horde and that people were dying whilst he lay in bed, mostly wrapped around Ianto, but they had both agreed that he would get up and join the talks when he could walk across the room without his vision fading out.

He woke at the UNIT base for the fourth time with Ianto's head on his chest, Ianto's arm slung across his waist and the duvet entirely on what had become Ianto's side of the bed, even though Ianto always squished into Jack's side of the bed, mostly on top of him.

Jack had told him yesterday that, had he known that what it took to get Ianto to snuggle was to scare the crap out of him, he would have done it long ago. Somewhere during Jack's 'illness', Ianto's ability to walk out of the room and not speak to him for a day had died, for which Jack was extremely grateful.

It would have been very dull, unable to do anything but lie there and wait for Ianto to forgive him. Actually, it was anyway, but at least he could watch Ianto deciding whether to forgive him or not, and it didn't take as long when Jack was actually in the room with him.

The bedside clock showed that it was still early. Not early for a UNIT base, which never slept, but early for Ianto. He still wasn't very good with mornings if you let him have one. The best time to wake him up was before five or after eleven, any time in between and he'd hate you for a week. Seven in the morning, after two days of being able to lie in and a week of not really sleeping because Jack was unconscious, Jack just held him tighter and let him be.

He stirred eventually and reached out blindly for the duvet, dragging it over his head. Jack chuckled and tried to tug it over more of Ianto than just his shoulders and head, but Ianto grumbled and pinned him down. "Stay. Still. Dn't move."

"You forgot 'sit'," he teased. "And you're... oh never mind."

"The duvet's gone somewhere, hasn't it?"

"Just a bit," he reached down to tug it again and Ianto propped himself up just enough to help, then flopped down on Jack again. "You really, really hate mornings, don't you?"

"Wow, he's finally figured it out."

"Sarcastic whelp."

"You love me for it."

Jack sighed and settled back again happily. "Yeah, I do."

"Sap."

"You love me for it," he challenged.

Ianto was silent for a while, then sighed. "Yeah, you're right, I do."

"You don't need to sound so miserable about it, you know," he stretched and sat up to dislodge Ianto. "I know this sounds strange coming from me, but where are my clothes?"

"I know this sounds strange coming from me," Ianto replied from somewhere under the duvet. "But I put them away in the chest of drawers."

He rubbed his hand over the concealed lump that was probably Ianto's shoulder. "Want to join me in the shower?"

"Would that mean moving?"

"I'm afraid so," he pulled the duvet back so that Ianto could glare at him. "We need to get ready for the Council, Ianto."

"I'm not allowed to go," he sighed and rested his head on his arms, avoiding Jack's eyes. "It's the elected heads of the organisations or their representatives. I'm," he waved vaguely. "Neither."

Jack tugged the duvet right off the bed and dumped it on the floor, then folded his arms and looked down at Ianto. "Don't tell me you're going to listen?"

Ianto smiled out and reached out a hand for Jack to take and pull him up. "I take it you would like your personal assistant there, sir?"

"You're getting the idea."

Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart was held in high regard by everyone at UNIT for his close associations with the Doctor in years gone past. This came in two forms, regard from those who assumed that some of the Doctor's brilliance would have passed on to him, and respect from those who knew the Doctor and thought that Alastair must have the patience of a saint to put up with him. Both were deserved.

Right this moment, he was trying to work out if he'd got older and saner, or the Doctor had got younger and madder, in more ways than the physical. He was sitting and jiggling, constantly looking at the clock to see how close they were to the appointed time, and then jumping up to greet anyone who came through the door. The reactions to him ranged from Martin Hanley's cautious irritation, to Orlando Maiani's enthusiastic excitement. When the twitching figure bounded to his feet yet again, Alastair looked up with a weary sigh, cut off when he saw who it was. "Captain Charlond, welcome to UNIT London. You've met Captain Rant, I assume?"

He inclined his head to Rick and replied with a soft French accent, "I had not until I arrived last night. Alas that it is war which forces such meetings."

"Indeed, without war we'd be much happier but not know as many people," Alastair put his hand on the Doctor's shoulder and pulled him forwards. "And this is the Doctor."

"It is an honour to meet you, sir," he extended his hand to the Doctor, who shook it cheerfully. "Captain Anton Charlond, Director Charlond's son, I don't know if you've ever met him?"

"I haven't," he told him. "Not spent much time on Earth in recent years, really. Well, not for long periods of time."

"A year not withstanding."

His smiled slipped and he nodded, then sniffed and gestured to the seats. "Doesn't count, I didn't really get to meet people."

"No," Anton smiled in return, though it was a little forced, and sat down in an empty seat. "Are we nearly ready now, Alastair?"

"Nearly," he picked up the pile of paper in front of his seat and tapped it straight. "We are just waiting for Captain Harkness and Mr Jones."

"Jones?" Martin looked up from his files sharply. "Why is he coming?"

"Because the Captain has been ill and we are disinclined to remove him from Ianto's company," Alastair replied calmly, not looking away from his now neat paperwork. "And I suspect that that's them outside now."

The voices in the corridor stayed low, but there was an uncomfortable pause before the guard on the door opened it into the room and stepped in to hold it for Jack and Ianto, who were looking respectively irritated and embarrassed. They smoothed their expressions over almost instantly, but not fast enough for their audience, and got out of the way so that the door could close. "We're not late, I hope?" Jack asked, pulling a chair out for Ianto before he sat in the one next to it.

"No, no, everyone else is enthusiastically early," Alastair reassured him. "They also haven't been confined to bed for over a week, so I think we'll let you off, Captain."

"Thank you, Sir Alastair. I hope we didn't miss the introductions by being on time?"

"Not at all," he chuckled. "I think they'd be appreciated for everyone. I'm sure everyone's heard of the Doctor; Jack you know him, don't you?"

"You could put it that way," he smiled past Alastair at the Doctor.

"This is Captain Harkness and Mr Jones from Torchwood, they have the... device, which I've mentioned to you all. Captain Rant is our head agent on the case in the UK, Captain Charlond is his counterpart in Belgium; his father is the current director of UNIT in Europe. Colonel Odooyo is the head of UNIT in Britain, and Captain Mace has been liaising with Geneva. He's our man with the information."

"Orlando Maiami is a research scientist from CERN whose field of expertise is in communication technologies, and Martin Hanley is the head of security for the British government at Thames House."

Jack looked up sharply and Ianto rolled his eyes. "Has there been any news on the Cabinet?"

"No," Martin tapped his pen on the desk and then dropped it. "It's becoming traditional, losing the Cabinet during an alien invasion. May I say that I'm pleased to see that you've made a full recovery, Mr Jones?"

Ianto inclined his head with a slight smile and a twitch that suggested that he had kicked his husband under the table. "Thank you, I'm quite pleased with the fact myself. Especially as so many others weren't so fortunate."

"It was a close call for you though, I believe?"

"Always is," he shrugged it off and turned in his seat to look at the Brigadier and the Doctor. "The ball seems to be in your court as to where we take this from here."

"Captain Mace?" Alastair gestured for him to take over. "If you could tell us what we know."

He stood up and looked around the table, then down to his notes. "We've tracked their ship to the Dead Sea, where we believe it is submerged or shielded from sight, as we can't get any visuals of it. Their forces are spreading East at the moment, towards China and Korea, who are putting up the greatest resistance. The Americas and Oceania states are currently taking our advice to sit quiet and comply with any demands, but the Asian Tiger states are determined to resist. If Russia joins with them as they have indicated they may, they could bring war to the heart of Europe before we can do anything about it."

"Can we distance ourselves from Russia?" Anton asked.

"Only politically," Rick pointed out, "which they really don't care about. Are they monitoring our communications, Orlando?"

"As far as we can tell, no. We've experimented with sending out communications regarding military movements and still had success in minor skirmishes against them, but they are also ignoring all direct communications."

"What about the device?" Anton glanced at Jack and Ianto, then on to Orlando. "Could we use it to communicate with them? It could save lives."

"No," the Doctor cut in strongly. "There's no knowing what they're capable of. We already suspect them of some degree of mind control capabilities judging by what happened to Jack, we can't risk opening communications with them. It's also our only hope of defeating them for good."

"But if we take it to Geneva, we can work on using it to broadcast the signal whilst communicating with them and trying to stop the bloodshed. People are dying daily."

"It's a choice between some or all," Jack interjected quietly. "Treating with them would only delay the day when they overrun the world entirely and we become just one more step on their ladder to domination. We have to destroy them for good."

"Any you think you're the one to do it, I take it?" he asked, sounding very much like he disagreed.

"I can't die," Jack shrugged, trying to pretend that he didn't hate the fact. "Better to risk my life than that of someone who can't afford to lose it."

"But if they've got to you already..."

"Do you mind if we ask exactly what happened, Captain?" Orlando asked. "I must admit that I'm worried about the possible repercussions."

"I was stabbed when we were attached on our way out of Wales. When I came back, I had light blindness essentially, and it seemed like I had some connection to them, although whether that was just a psychological reaction to what I was experiencing or an actual link, we don't know."

"We're assuming, though, that their weapons can be used as a means of taking control of a person's mind and linking them to the neural network," the Doctor continued for him. "As well as just killing. They aimed to kill with Jack, and succeeded, it just didn't stick. The effects lingered though. They probably had no control over him, or even an awareness of him, as they managed to evade capture."

"I understand that you collapsed on the way here again?" Colonel Odooyo asked him, more gently than he'd expected.

Jack nodded, but it was Ianto who answered. "He collapsed at sea when we were three days from here, and died again a day after we reached here before we could break the control."

There was utter silence around the table, then Alastair tilted his head. "Are we agreed that Jack will take the device, then?"

"Not alone," Rick said what Ianto was thinking. "No offence, Jack, but you'll need as much help as you can get."

"And Ianto's not letting you go anywhere without him," the Doctor pointed out. "Neither am I, for that matter."

"Anyone else?" Jack smiled.

"If you're heading through Europe, you're going my way," Orlando smiled. "And Anton's?"

"Definitely. I think the war of minds will be moving to Geneva, it should be a stopping off point at the very least."

"I'm in," Martin sighed. "I need to go to Geneva anyway to talk about the huge number of missing politicians. So it sounds like you've got yourself a team, Captain."

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