captgreatcoat: (Earnest)
[personal profile] captgreatcoat
It's been a long day already, not helped by the early-morning wake-up call. He's spent most of it at St Helen's, cross-checking data and talking to the doctors and nurses and Jane. But he knew after just a few minutes with her what had happened. All it took to confirm was a call to Ianto to ask him to check the Rift monitor for the time and place she was found. Which yielded exactly the result he expected. Then, of course, once she could be released into his care, he had to make sure things were ready out on the island for her.

This is the second time he's been here today, and the bright sunshine and the cool breeze blowing in off the channel do little to lighten his mood. Whatever he may tell Gwen or Ianto about there being nothing they can do stop this happening, he can't help feeling that every person this happens to is another failure. He tells himself that what he does is make Cardiff a better place to live, after all.

Some days he can't kid himself that he's done any such thing.

His day just gets worse when he descends into the facility and hears the sound of footsteps down the corridor. There's the low, gentle voice of Helen, the nurse in charge of this place, and, in response, Gwen, her tone sharp, accusatory.

If she's going to go throwing any accusations around, they ought to be thrown at him.

"I'll take it from here, Helen," he says as he steps around the corner and comes face-to-face with Gwen. This explains why Ianto didn't want to talk to him about all this last night. Ianto, apparently, already made his decision and acted without him. And told Gwen about this place. "It was Ianto, wasn't it?"

Gwen doesn't answer, but stares at him, eyes wide.

"What are you doing?" There's an edge in her tone that says this is going to be just as unpleasant as he thought. He can understand what she must be thinking. If he found this place, looking as run-down as it does, full of people who've gone missing off the streets, what would he think?

"I can explain."

She backs away, shaking her head.

"Stay away from me!" The betrayal, the hurt, the accusation in her eyes might be deserved, but they sting no less for that. Especially when she adds, her voice growing ever higher, ever more frantic, "These are the people taken by the Rift! What are they doing here? What have you done?"

"Gwen, listen to me," he says, but it's too late. Her eyes have fallen on the door marked 'Jonah's room'. Jack closes his eyes for a moment and prepares for the onslaught. Helen doesn't know what to think; she's standing with her hands clasped in front of her looking nervously from Gwen to Jack and back again.

"He's here. He's been here all along."

He shakes his head, steps forward again, his voice low, conciliatory, as he speaks.

"It's not that simple."

"Open it."

"Gwen, before I ..." There are so many things she needs to know, so many things she doesn't understand, but the line of her jaw is set and he can't remember the time he last saw that much anger on her face.

"NOW!" He stares at her, and his lips thin as his teeth clench in anger. He'd hoped to spare her this, to spare Jonah this. To spare himself this. He owes her an explanation. But she doesn't deserve what she's about to see. He walks past her, around her. Their eyes meet for a moment before he reaches into his pocket for his key card and swipes it through the lock. He watches Gwen enter the room and waits for a moment.

There's nothing more he can do here. He turns back to Helen.

"Tell her I'll be outside when she wants to talk to me."

What Gwen's about to see will raise more questions than it answers. Jonah's a man of fifty now, scarred and traumatised by what's happened to him. Jack doesn't want to face this now; perhaps a little time in the sun will make it all seem a little more bearable.

When she comes outside, there are tears sparkling in her eyes, though she obviously doesn't want to show it. He's not sure if she sees him as she goes to sit on the grass at the edge of the cliff. She doesn't speak as he walks up to her and sits beside her.

Now that she's seen it all, there's no need to hold back. So he tells her, his voice much quieter than usual, the story. How when he took over Torchwood, there were two people in the vaults, two people who'd come through the Rift and been ravaged, physically and emotionally, by what they'd seen. They'd been locked up and forgotten by Torchwood, but they deserved so much better. How he'd set up this place to house them, to look after them, to make sure they got the care they needed and deserved. He looks into her eyes as he speaks, willing her to believe him, to understand that whatever she might think, he only meant the best.

It mightn't look like much, but there's been a lot of time and effort gone into this place, and without a budget, he's had to spend a great deal of his own money and time to establish a facility out here, on an island in the Bristol Channel, where they will be safe.

"How many are there?"

"Seventeen, last count." Gwen lets out a disbelieving sound and shakes her head as she stares across the waves. "It's increased over the last year. Like the Rift is trying to correct its mistakes." His voice breaks and he looks away again. That's what all this is about, isn't it? Mistakes.

"But not all the missing return."

"No."

"You can't keep them hidden. They have families who deserve to know ..."

"Gwen," he turns back to her, in the vain hope that she can be made to understand what she's asking. "They're sick. In ways you could never imagine. We can't fix them. We just care for them."

It's not a surprise when she asks him to bring Jonah's mother here to see him. Even though it's an impossibility, even though it's against every rule governing the secrecy of Torchwood, she still believes that somehow this can be made right.

"She has a right to know. She said not knowing is the worst part."

"How are you going to tell her," he asks, gesticulating with one hand in his passion, "her child has aged 40 years in the last seven months? That he's scarred, that he cannot look after himself..." What would that do to the poor woman? It would be like having all his own personal nightmares come true. He won't inflict that on someone.

But she's determined. She wants to bring Jonah's mother here, to show her what's happened to her son. To tell her about Torchwood and the Rift and the work they do.

"What if she doesn't believe you?"

In a way, he always knew this would happen.

"I have to try. We owe her the truth. Jack, if you'd lost someone, wouldn't you want to know?"

He has to turn away before she sees the emotion on his face. He can't hide it from her. Because she has no way of knowing that he did lose someone, the one person who meant the most to him. And that ever since, he's berated himself for what happened. For the fact that he never found out what happened.

Her hand closes on his and he knows he's going to tell her she can do it, against all his better judgement. Wasn't that the one thing he always told himself?

That all he wanted was to know?

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Captain Jack Harkness

July 2014

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