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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 4

Of all the ways he'd expected to find out, Facebook did not rank highly. In fact, he'd gone to great lengths to make sure that Facebook was not an easy medium for news of alien invasions to spread by. It was there though, and on Twitter, and on the BBC's news page, and on BBC 1, and BBC 2, and ITV, and... not Channel 4, that was still showing Friends. Good to know some things never changed. He ran his hands through his hair and stared at the TV, then wandered into the bedroom and stabbed Jack under the ribs with his finger, grabbing the ready packed bags from the bottom of the wardrobe and dressing quickly whilst Jack rolled over to watch him. "Huh?"

"They're here," he zipped up his jeans and threw a pair at Jack. "They've taken the Middle East, the assumption is that they're in control of nuclear weapons by now."

Jack rubbed at his eyes and pulled on the boxers that Ianto had dumped on the bed for him. "I thought there were no weapons of mass destruction?"

"Apparently there are," he emerged out the far side of a polo shirt and saw Jack pulling his jeans on. "End of the world, Jack. It's time."

They grabbed the last of the things they could carry and emerged onto the street, ignoring both their cars. Jack dropped into the public phonebox on the corner whilst Ianto kept guard, and arranged for Tosh, Gwen and Owen to meet them in town on the first floor of the 24 hour fast food restaurant. The morning rush was dying down when they got there, and they managed to get a corner table where the five of them could sit out of the way.

Ianto went to fetch bacon sandwiches and large mugs of coffee, and Jack read the newspapers he'd picked up on the way in. It was a dismal story, even with the limited information they'd had by the time they went to print.

The military and police had been wiped out overnight and their bases were now under the control of the invading forces, the only resistance that could stand up to them was the insurgent forces who had been holding out against British and American troops and now held out against the fresh invaders. The Sky News reporters on the TV showed footage of entire towns wiped out, because it was the only way to get the insurgents. Huge numbers of people were missing rather than dead, people feared that they would be used as hostages to take more countries with less force.

Ianto stopped to look up at the TV screen, then dropped into the seat next to Jack. "Slaves?"

"I expect so," he looks around at the stairs. "They should be here soon."

"They'll get here, Jack," Ianto reassures him. "You did advise them not to drive."

"I'm an idiot."

"Jack... Did you find out about the Hub?" he asked around a mouthful of bacon sandwich.

He nodded and flipped the paper over to do the sudoku. "Compromised, Mainframe's shut down."

"So they can't get at the archives and databases?"

"No, but neither can we."

Tosh's bag landed in the seat before she did, tucking her hair out of her wide eyes. "Jack, is it true?"

He waved a hand at the TV. "Very."

"What do we do?"

"We... do what we do," he wrapped his hands around one of the coffees and looked up at the screen again. "Get as much information as we can, go underground, save the world. Home in time for pizza," he and Ianto exchanged a glance that neither of them could hold.

"The Bad Wolf barks at noon," Owen broke through their thoughts and waved his hands at Tosh. "Budge up, Tosh. Gwen's getting coffees, we came in on the same bus. Life's just going on."

"Life always goes on, Owen. It has to," Jack rested his chin on his hands and looked sideways out of the window onto the street below. It was quieter than usual, but far from deserted. "Just because the world's ending, it doesn't mean you don't need to eat, or need new socks, or have to work. Your world might not end, you have to carry on to be able to pick up the pieces."

"It's quiet, though," Ianto pointed out. "Too quiet."

"It's the calm before the storm, the deep breath before the plunge. People are digging in, stocking up on non-perishables in the hope that the storm will pass overhead and not touch them if they hide away. They'll start coming to churches and schools when the storm gets closer," Jack sighed and shook his head. "It just makes them easier targets, like shooting fish in a barrel."

Gwen appeared at the top of the stairs with another tray of coffees and slid them onto the table before dropping into the seat next to Jack. "The schools are all open, but only about half the kids have been sent in."

"Yeah, we can read," Ianto picked up a coffee and nodded at the screen. "The game is afoot."

"Jack, what's the plan?"

"Ianto and I will set off for UNIT's base in London as a start. Then we'll take it from there."

"You two?" Owen asked. Jack nodded, confused and Owen checked. "You and the teaboy? Anyone with medical training?"

"We're coming with you," Tosh smiled sweetly. "We can't get into the Hub, there's nothing we can do. Gwen can stay behind and cover for us, keep us informed and keep Cardiff running."

Gwen nodded. "No arguments, Jack. You all need to get off as soon as possible."

He looked around and leaned sideways to look at Tosh's bag. "You... this is another mutiny, isn't it?"

Ianto squeezed his hand. "The exact opposite. We'll follow our captain wherever he goes, even to death."

"I don't want that loyalty, I don't mmph..." he closed his eyes and tangled his fingers tighter with Ianto's when Ianto pulled back from his extremely effective attempt at stopping him. "When did you prepare it?"

"We've all been ready to go as long as you two have," Owen cut across Ianto. "The car's waiting for us, the rest of the stuff is in it."

"What car?"

"The car I bought for a couple of hundred quid from a mate of mine a few weeks back," Ianto's eyes twinkled with faint mischief behind the concern. "Hilux, bombproof.

"Gwen, you'll run the backup Hubs?" Jack checked.

"Yeah, and I've got a few people on standby to back me up. Don't worry, Jack."

"That's my job," he splayed his hands on the table top and looked down as Ianto covered one and Gwen covered the other. They reached out for Tosh and Owen, who completed the circle. "We'll go to Hub 4 and lay low during the day, all of us. We travel by night, and we'll have no communication with anyone outside from now on. Even Gwen, once we leave. Absolute silence. We're truly on our own."

"Better for four of us to be on our own together, than us waiting behind with nothing to do anyway," Owen pointed out. "We're all yours, Jack."

"Then let's save the world."

Hub 4 had been a pub, run by one of the all too common Torchwood retirees due to injury. Joseph hadn't remembered any of them, of course, but he'd been grateful for the regular attendees who could help him through and cope with the fact that most of his life was a blur. Now it was a derelict pub, thick with dust and dirt and the carcases of dead spiders. The look on Ianto's face said it all. "Right," he took his jacket off and hung it carefully on a hook, then rolled his sleeves up. "Gwen, get Rhys and go to the brewery, get a few barrels of beer, then go to the cash and carry and get some soft drinks and a real ale and a real cider."

She gave them an apologetic look and fled, giggling into her phone as she called Rhys for help. Jack started to shrug his coat off as Ianto wandered around the bar, looking for what needed to be done first, but stopped when Ianto spotted him and came over to help him slide it off. Ianto brushed the coat straight and went to hang it next to his own jacket whilst he talked. "Tosh, Owen, you two take the first floor. Jack and I will take this one. Get the windows open and air the place out while I go round the corner and buy some cleaning supplies."

Jack looked up at him and finished rolling his sleeve up. "You're not going out there alone, not now."

"I'm only going..."

"No, Ianto, you're not," he pushed his sleeves down and reached into his coat pocket for his wallet. "Stay upstairs and make sure that one of you can see the street at all times. Don't let yourselves get taken by surprise and don't open the door until you see us."

Owen patted his gun and headed for the stairs. "Hurry back, and don't let Ianto buy more cleaning equipment than you can carry."

Ianto flicked him the finger and stepped out onto the street, and Jack followed him instantly, grabbing his arm as soon as he was in reach. "Ianto, there's people trying to kill us," he snapped. "I'm not going to lose you just because I wasn't there."

"And what about Tosh and Owen?" he covered Jack's hand on his arm rather than pulling away. "And Gwen? You can't be everywhere."

"Tosh and Owen can watch each other's backs. Gwen's built herself a team. You're... For God's sake, Ianto, can't you just accept that you mean more to me?" he squeezed Ianto's arm and tugged his hand away, but Ianto kept hold of it. "Am I that bad at communicating that you don't know how I feel about you?"

"Say it, Jack," Ianto told him, holding tightly to his hand. "Tell me what I am to you."

"I love you."

"No," Ianto squeezed his hand. "What am I?"

"I don't... I don't know what you want from me, Ianto."

"What label would you use for me? How would you describe me if someone asked you?"

He frowned and contemplated complaining about labels, but the answer was too easy. "You're my husband."

"You don't wear my ring," Ianto rubbed his thumb over Jack's knuckles without looking down.

"You were... you were dying, if I'd chosen one for myself it would have meant accepting that," he explained. "And then you wouldn't talk to me."

"I was being a twat," he admitted. "Have I said that before?"

"A couple of times. I seem to recall that it was the first thing you said to me," he smiled ruefully. He'd been not sleeping when a warm, dozy figure had crawled into bed with him and announced apologetically that said figure was a twat.

"I really was a twat. You shouldn't have taken me back," he tugged on Jack's hand. "But I'm glad you did. Come with me."

"Oh, so now he wants me here," Jack looked down at their still-joined hands curiously, then up at Ianto. "A lot of stuff to carry?"

"Jeweller's," Ianto squeezed his hand. "And then you can mop the floor for me."
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