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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 Three Paths
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 395
Chapter 6

They'd changed their sleeping patterns, travelling by night for the extra cover and to escape the heat of the day, and sleeping whilst the sun was at its zenith. Jack and Ianto lay next to each other but not touching, and Andrea watched over her master. Serki laughed at her, and no matter how hard she tried to ignore him, he wouldn't go away. He taunted her through her vigil. "Watching over master, waiting for master's crumbs. Master won't care doesn't care, master's got his toy."

"Don't care," she muttered. "We swore to protect and to serve. Master is our master, and the Ianto is his."

"Ianto is cruel. Master would be happier without him."

"I'd be happier without you." She sulked, folding her arms. "Ianto makes master happy. Master is our friend."

"You don't have any friends," Serki laughed. "Not even I like you."

"Shut up." She turned her back on Jack and Ianto, wishing she could turn her back on herself. "Go away."

"Go away?" he laughed again. "Where would you be without me? We survived because of me. You created me."

"Don't need you any more. Master protects us now."

"What did you say?"

She jutted her chin. "I don't need you. Go away and never come back."

"No," he growled.

"Go away." She clamped her hands over her ears. "Go away. I'm not going to listen to you any more. Never ever again."

There was silence, inside and outside her head. She broke the silence with a laugh of pure happiness and curled up close to Jack.

The day was dwindling but still warm and bright when they broke camp and ate. They had camped by a small stream, on a ridge above a road where they could watch it without being seen. Ianto watched with mingled disgust and sadness whilst Serki fawned over Jack, and Jack responded happily. He was so pleased to see her happy and alive, like the child he'd known despite never meeting, that he would look past any signs that she wasn't to be trusted. It was driving a wedge between them, and Ianto felt a little colder every night. He stirred the rabbit stew again, grateful to her for finding the rabbits, if nothing else, and decided that it was ready to eat. There wasn't a lot, but it was more hot food than they'd had since leaving their friends behind, and they'd run out of dried meat a couple of days ago. He sighed and filled two bowls, leaving less than a third for himself, and carried them over to his companions. "Eat up. We'll have to get going soon." Jack's smile, warm, grateful, affectionate and worried, was worth the churning in his own stomach, and he claimed a kiss before he went back to get his own food.

Serki ate the stew with bare, grubby fingers and enthusiastic noises that turned Ianto's stomach even further, and he turned away from the pair of them so that his expression was hidden. He heard Jack get up and move, but it was away from them, rather than towards him, and cold crept through the heat of the afternoon. The stew was good, considering that he'd cooked it, but it left him feeling nauseous. Halfway through the bowl he realised that he couldn't eat any more, so he pushed himself to his feet and followed Jack towards the road.

"Here." He held his bowl out until Jack took it, then sat down next to him. "I can't eat any more."

Jack's expression became more worried, but Ianto was saved by an engine on the road. They pulled back from the edge further and watched an army approach from around the corner. "They're non-human," Ianto breathed.

"Yeah. Mercenaries, I expect." Jack squeezed his shoulder. "We should go."

"About five minutes ago," he agreed. Jack pulled back before him and couldn't see the road any longer when Ianto stopped him. "Jack, wait."

"What is it?"


He crawled back to the edge of the ridge and stopped, eyes lighting up with delight. "It's a numal."

"A what?"

"A numal. They're like warhorses but bigger," he breathed, settling down next to Ianto again. "Wonderful, amazing creatures. Intelligent and..."

"Beautiful," Ianto finished for him. They were stocky but elegant, smooth lines of muscle under shimmering bronze skin, with long manes and plumed tails that fanned out behind them, catching the golden light of evening.

"Beautiful and deadly," Jack agreed. "Come on, we need to... What?"

Rapid fire cut down the alien army as they marched, and they were thrown into confusion for long enough that their unseen assailants nearly wiped them out. The majestic numal threw its riders and bolted, cutting a more effective swathe through the army. It was over in minutes, and Ianto realised that they should have been long gone. "Jack, we need to get out of here."

He nodded and they pulled back, watching each other and their surroundings carefully. Still, the soldiers melted out of the bush and seized Ianto before he could react. Jack dove back towards him, reaching for his gun, but raised his hands in surrender when the muzzle of a revolver pressed against Ianto's temple. They met each other's eyes in despairing agreement, and let their captors bundle them away to where they wanted them.

Their final destination, which they reached an hour after sunset, was a cave complex in the walls of a gorge, accessed by a secret path down the wall of the gorge. Blindfolded, they stumbled on the uneven and loose surfaces and were snagged on tree branches and sharp rocks jutting out from the wall of the gorge. When their blindfolds were removed they could see a little of the gorge out through a rock window and caves going back into the rock on the other side, and a great deal of activity surrounding them. They were not offered chairs or food whilst their captor sat and ate, studying a map as though he weren't aware that they were there.

Jack met Ianto's eye and nodded, and they resumed their contemplation of the ceiling, equally adept at ignoring people you wished didn't exist. It was their captor who broke the silence, although he didn't look up. "My men tell me that you are spies, defectors to those who wish to take over our lands. They are aliens you know."

They didn't answer, which amused him. "It might shock you to know that aliens exist, even now. Was it a surprise when they came from the skies and turned your world upside down, did you..." he stopped when Ianto snorted and finally looked at them. "Is something funny?"

Jack snapped to attention and saluted. "Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood Cardiff Agent 14."

"Four... Torchwood?" he leaned back in his chair and looked Ianto over. "And this is your bodyguard?"

Ianto gave him a look of pitying disgust. "His husband."

"Right..." he looked between them again and sighed before rolling up his maps. "So, Captain and Mr Harkness, would you care to tell me what you are doing in these lands?"

"It's Jones," Ianto scowled.

Jack shot him a glare. "We're on a mission from UNIT London. We were travelling with a group of companions, under the guidance of the Doctor. Two of our team were with us as well, along with a researcher from CERN and an agent of MI5, and two UNIT captains. Richard Rant, of UNIT UK, and Anton Charlond of UNIT France."

"Anton?" their captor sat up straighter. "You knew Anton Charlond?" He waited for Jack to nod, then stood up and strode to the window. "Then you would be surprised to hear that he is dead."

Jack sighed and dropped his head. Ianto swallowed hard. "How did it happen?"

"I was hoping you could tell me," the man admitted. "He was my brother, and his body was found in a church in France."

Ianto nodded. "I'm sorry. He was a good man."

"Yes, he was." He sighed and straightened up, smiling at them sadly. "My name is Captain Yves Charlond, and I am a survivor of UNIT in these lands, along with my team." Yves returned to his chair and collected his papers. "And you are more work than I can deal with right this moment. Put them in the cells for the moment."

They weren't blindfolded again and their bags were returned to them, but their treatment was less than gentle as they were bundled into a small cave deep in the complex. It was a storage room, lit by a battery powered lamp above the door, and with a pile of empty crates and sacks in the corner. Jack sank down on the sacks and rubbed at his face, leaving Ianto standing in the middle of the small room. "You should get away," Ianto told him quietly. "I'll create a distraction and you get out of here."

He shook his head and dropped his hands. "I can't, Ianto. I can't... I can't go without you."

Ianto sat next to him and reached out to rest a hand on his leg. "Jack?"

"It's getting louder, the singing that Andrea spoke about. I can hear it," he covered Ianto's hand with his own. "You... without you, I'll lose myself in it."

Ianto swallowed and turned his hand over to curl their fingers together. "I'm still here."

Ianto had settled into a fitful sleep a few hours later, with their sleeping pattern thrown out yet again, but Jack was lying awake spooned behind him, unable to slow his thoughts. The door opened slowly and quietly, and he disengaged himself to sit up and face Yves. He nodded a greeting and held the door open, beckoning him through.

Yves led him to the window they'd seen before and gestured down to the gulley floor below, where a figure could be seen scrambling over the rocks. "Do you know this pathetic creature?"

He raised an eyebrow without looking up. "Why? Seems like a random connection to make."

"It does, but one of my men thought he saw him close to your camp. If you don't..."

"Her," Jack corrected with a sigh. "Her name's Andrea, and she's our guide. I promised to keep her safe."

Yves nodded slowly and gestured to another cave. "Come on, we have to capture her. You can lead her in?"

"Of course."

They hurried through dark passages that led deep into the rock, then back out to the base of the cliffs and emerged on the edge of a deep pool. Andrea was splashing in the edge of it, laughing gleefully. Jack smiled at her happiness and edged forwards. "Andrea. Andy, come here."

"Master?" she looked up and beamed at him. "Jack!"

"Hey kiddo," he smiled softly and held his hand out. "Come on, we have to go inside."

"Go now?" she asked sadly. "But..."

He nodded. "I'm sorry. Maybe we'll come back later."

She crept towards him and placed her tiny hand in his larger one, tangling her fingers with his. He led her back to the crevass in the rock and yelled as she was ripped from his grasp by one of the guards. "Let her go! Andrea..."

"Jack!" she yelled, reaching out for him with betrayal in her eyes. "Master."

Jack turned to Yves. "She's just a child!"

He nodded curtly. "She will not be hurt. George, take Captain Harkness back to Mr Jones. Andrea is coming with us."

Andrea watched, bound and held by one of the guards, as Jack was led away from her, and Serki smiled.

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