Jan. 27th, 2010

captgreatcoat: (Glare)
Call it intuition, call it knowing Gwen, call it whatever the hell you want, but Jack's had a feeling that Gwen's not going to be able to let this Jonah Bevan thing rest. After all, that's why he hired her. She doesn't let go of things. She has that deep compassion, that ability to see the small picture, that she often accuses him of lacking. But the thing she doesn't see is the big picture.

So it's with no small amount of trepidation that he takes the briefing notes Tosh is handing out, that he looks at the plasma screen showing the negative Rift spikes, looks at the faces of the missing people staring at him from the computer screen.

This isn't going to be pretty.

He can feel Ianto's eyes on him as Gwen and Tosh explain what they've found: that what they thought was just a normal anomaly actually represents the Rift opening up and taking something. That the abnormally high number of missing persons in Cardiff reflects people to whom just that has happened. That there are dozens of people out there whose lives have been ruined.

That's exactly what happened to Jonah Bevan.

All things he knows. All things he can't change.

"What do we think happens to them?" Owen asks, his voice unusually subdued.

"Scattered through time and space, I guess," Jack replies, trying not to think of just what that means. He's tormented enough by that thought every time he goes out to the island. "This is good work." It is, undeniably so, and if it weren't for the fact that what she's opened is an impossible problem with absolutely no solution, if it weren't for the fact that he's already told her to let this go, he'd be proud of her. "But I don't know what you want us to do."

"Find a way to prevent it," Gwen says, as though doing that would be easy. As though they'd find a way if they just put their minds to it. As though he hasn't spent long hours trying to figure out how to do just that and failing.

"Toshiko, can we predict when the spikes are gonna happen?" he asks, even though he knows what the answer will be.

"Er, no. And they're gone in a matter of seconds."

"Then I don't know how we combat them." He sighs and looks down at the table as Gwen starts to lecture him about duty. As if he didn't know what his duty was. As if he were abandoning his responsibilities here. As if solving this were as simple as treating someone who's been mauled by a Weevil. "Weevils we can catch." He spreads his hands, helplessly, and looks her in the eye across the length of the conference table. "If there’re victims, we fix their wounds, but this, we don't know when it's gonna happen, we don't know where they end up. Seriously, Gwen." He pauses for a moment, watches her, shakes his head. "Practically. Tell me what we should do."

"We help those left behind."

He looks down at his papers, shaking his head.

"It's nothing to do with us. Move on."

"Jack, you should see these people ..."

"Some things we can't fix." They can't prevent it, there's no risk factors, it's totally random. They can't warn anyone, and even if they could, it wouldn't do any good. And as for telling the families ... well, what would happen if word of this got out, which it surely would?

Chaos and panic. And preventing that from happening, that's what his duty is.

"Look, Jack's right," says Owen. He's not usually known for being a voice of reason, but he's a doctor. He has some understanding of this sort of thing, even if he's no psychiatrist. "They need counselling. Support. That is not us."

"We are the only ones who know the truth," Gwen says, painfully sincere. "We can help them." He looks down at the table again, hands clasped in front of him. He recognises the signs. She's got it into her head that they have got to do something about this. Regardless of the actual possibilities of the situation. What does she expect him to do, work miracles?

"We don't have to be this hard." The words hit him like a slap across the face. After everything they've been through together, after everything he's done, does she, can she, honestly think that this is a matter of his lack of compassion? That he doesn't know full well just how much these people are hurting? That he wouldn't help them if he could? "It's not a badge of honour!"

Of any of them, it's Jack who knows what those people are going through. He's the one who's lived with the guilt, the uncertainty, of having someone he loves just vanish.

He does not have to put up with this from her.

"Close this down." He pushes up from the table and storms out of the room. He hears her call his name, but he keeps walking. He only stops when he hears Ianto call out to him. He turns, hands on his hips. He knows what Ianto's going to say from the look on his face, so he preempts him.

"I am not going to tell her."

"Jack, she's not going to let it go. Maybe by telling her about the people who've come back, by showing her what's happened, you can give her some idea of just how impossible this all is."

"She is gonna want to start telling people. She's gonna want to fix it. You've seen it, Ianto. There is no fix for this. We can't do anything more than we already do."

Ianto's silent for a moment, but the look on his face is troubled.

"Are you about to start lecturing me on my lack of compassion?" Because he's had enough of it for one day. It's bad enough from his best friend. He doesn't need it from his lover as well.

"Of course not. But -"

"If we start telling people about this, there is gonna be mass panic as a result. That is what we're here to prevent. We can't just -"

They break apart, falling silent as Tosh walks past them. Jack shakes his head and looks back into the conference room where Gwen's sitting, alone, at the head of the table. Their eyes meet for a long, long moment before he turns away. Her eyes are full of accusation. He turns back to Ianto and takes a deep breath.

"I'm the boss. This is my call," he says, and because he can't deal with any more of this, he turns and heads off down the corridor. After a step, remorse hits; it's not Ianto's fault, any of this.

He doesn't stop, but he does manage to smile back over his shoulder to Ianto as he walks away.

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Captain Jack Harkness

July 2014

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