Pairing - Jack / Ianto, John / Loz
Summary - Five years after leaving, Jack and Ianto return to find a lot of changes and few old faces. Follows on from 'Eternity'- probably best to read that first.
Spoilers - Post Children of Earth, but only minor ones.
John Hart stared at the holo-image that flickered before him, showing Loz’s face. Why, of all the people and beings in the whole damn universe, did it have to be Loz? He knew that the man had been an assassin back on Liegen but it had never occurred to him that someday it might come back to haunt him. Not here. Loz had been working with Torchwood for months now and he was one of the team. John was also rather fond of him, and not just because he was fun in bed.
He looked across the table to Verla. He owed her- he knew he did- but could he simply hand Loz over to her, knowing that he would be killed? That brought him back to the reason Verla wanted him in the first place.
“I need to go and-” What? Talk to Loz? He couldn’t exactly tell her that the person she was hunting was probably in the same building as they were right now, “- do something.”
John got up and left the room before she could ask any questions. Ianto followed him out, leaving Jack and Gwen to guard Verla.
John sighed and leaned back against the wall. “Not sure. I can’t believe Vanna’s dead,” he told Ianto.
“Did you know her well?”
“I met her a few times. She was such a sweet kid; she was nearly five years younger than Verla.” He pushed himself away from the wall decisively. “I need to talk to Loz; I want to hear what he has to say.”
Ianto looked sceptical. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Probably not, but I’m going to talk to him anyway.”
In the end, Ianto let him go, going back into the room to let the others know where he’d gone. Gwen was on her phone and glanced up as he entered, indicating for him to stay with Jack whilst she went out to take the call.
“Was John OK?”
Ianto knew that Verla was listening and leaned in to whisper to Jack. “He went to talk to Loz.”
John found Loz in his sleeping quarters, the apartment that he had been assigned in the Torchwood building’s accommodation floor. For a moment he stood in the doorway, watching as the man moved about the room. Over the past few months, the mental association between Loz the bounty-hunter / assassin who had been sent her to capture Adrian and Loz the Torchwood employee had widened. It was difficult for him to imagine the handsome, blonde man before him as the person who had acted as Vanna’s killer. Loz turned and caught sight of him, a smile crossing his features.
“What brings you here?” he asked, coming over to John. When he saw the look on his face, Loz frowned. “What’s wrong?”
John came in and closed the door behind him. He sat down on the couch by the window.
“I need to ask you something,” he said. “About your past, back on Liegen.”
With a sigh, Loz sat down in the chair opposite John. “Why?”
“I just need to know.”
Loz nodded. “What do you want to ask?”
“About a year ago, there was a young woman called Vanna, who was executed, by you,” John told him, “on charges of confidence trickery against the Liegen Prime. Do you know who I’m talking about?”
Loz was silent for a while, his brow furrowed as he thought back. Eventually, he nodded.
“I remember her. John, what is this about? You knew what I did on my homeworld, so why do you ask now?”
“Because I know her sister. Who, by the way, is currently downstairs in our interview room,” John told him. “She told me about Vanna. I’ve heard her side and now I want to hear it from you.”
Loz’s version of events was much the same as Verla’s, up to a point.
“She was caught drugging the Prime’s tea,” Loz told him. “When he was tested, it appeared that it had been happening for some time, around the same length of time that the girl, Vanna, had been his guest. She had played a convincing part- the lone traveller, saved from attack by the Prime’s guards. He took her in and quickly became infatuated with her.” He paused. “Only when the drug was examined did they see why. It acted as an aphrodisiac, designed to make him besotted with her.”
John nodded. “I saw Verla use that trick a few times on her marks, usually with the intent to either marry into the money or simply to gain access to what she was really after.”
“Vanna was arrested to be tried,” Loz continued, “but she was aided into an escape. I was sent after her. My orders were clear; return the woman who had attempted to poison the Prime, and deliver her for punishment. On Liegen, any attempt against the Prime carries an automatic sentence of execution, as treason.”
“Thanks,” Jon told him, standing up to leave a few minutes later. “Oh, you might want to keep out of sight for a while, until they’ve gone at least.”
John hated this, being torn between two worlds. It used to be so simple; look out for number one and screw the rest. If he could, he would just make a run for it, vanish somewhere into the vastness of the universe and keep out of this whole mess. With a sigh, he realised that he might think about it, but those days were behind him. He was actually enjoying having responsibilities now, even if he wasn’t sure who they resided with at this point.
Two days after Torchwood released her, Verla reappeared. He saw her on the security monitors as she paced outside the Torchwood building, occasionally casting pissed-off glares at the receptionist in the lobby. Picking up the phone, he called down to the front desk.
“She won’t leave until she speaks to you,” Jenny, the young woman on reception told him. “I told her that I couldn’t let her in.”
John knew she would just start causing a scene if she didn’t get what she wanted soon and went down to see her.
“I hear that you know where he is,” she said, not even bothering with a ‘hello’. She grinned. “I knew that you would be able to find him. Come, tell me and we can go on the hunt together and avenge Vanna.”
Damn, she wasn’t going to like this, he thought, knowing that she didn’t take no for an answer with any degree of grace.
“I can’t help you, Verla.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What? You owe me, Hart.”
“And I am grateful for what you did for me, but I can’t help you now.” He instinctively reached into his pocket to put his hand on the weapon he carried. “Go home, Verla, and forget about vengeance. Mourn your sister instead.”
“And what if I do not leave?” she asked. “What will you do?”
“Then we’ll have to make you. Please, I’m asking you to go quietly, as your friend. I’m trying to protect you.”
She shook her head. “You are no friend to me.”
John stood on the pavement and watched her strut away angrily before going back inside.
For the next week, no one heard or saw anything of her or her associates and John began to believe that she had taken his advice after all. He was currently out on a pain-in-the-ass weevil hunt after one of the damn things had decided to start attacking people on the streets. Why this one, out of the vast numbers still living in the sewers, had decided to come out in the open and turn violent, they didn’t know. It happened to some of them, whilst the rest were content to simply keep out of sight in the dark and damp underground tunnels.
“John! On your left!”
John reacted to Gwen’s shout and veered off toward the side street, footsteps behind him telling him that Adrian and Loz were keeping pace. Jack’s voice came over the earpiece he wore; they had the trap set if they could just drive it toward the alley. He heard a snarl from up ahead and rounded the next corner just as the Weevil tried to double back. When it saw it was being pursued, it once more ran in the direction of the dead end up ahead. John smiled to himself; the Weevils could be vicious buggers at times but they weren’t all that smart. It didn’t even try to find another way out or think that something could be waiting up ahead for it, it just ran.
They made it to the alley and it was only then that the Weevil worked out that it had nowhere else to go. It decided that doubling back was its best option and turned and ran straight at Adrian. He got off a couple of shots but his aim was wide and the Weevil managed to get hold of him. It tossed him aside with barely any effort, turning its attention to John.
Where the hell was Loz? He was supposed to be backing them up yet he was letting the damn animal escape.
“Loz? Now might be a good time to BLOODY WELL DO SOMETHING!”
“I’m afraid that your little friend isn’t in a position to do anything, John, sweetie.”
John turned to see Verla and her companions, Verla’s weapon was levelled at Loz’s forehead. The Weevil, sensing a chance to escape, made a dash for the open street and no one stopped it.
“Drop the guns,” she said, glancing at Jack and Gwen who were still holding weapons, “You too, John.”
Glancing back at Jack, he did as asked, sending the weapon skittering across the ground.
“You knew where he was all along,” she said. “The man who murdered Vanna.”
John edged his way around until he stood between Verla and Loz. He could see Jack moving too, as well as Ianto coming up behind Verla’s companions. They hadn’t seen him yet, but it would be only a matter of time.
“How can you protect him?!” she asked in disbelief. “Move aside!”
John shook his head. “I can’t do that. You are the one who dragged Vanna into this, just as you knew that Liegen law stated that treason was punishable by death. You knew that yet you still sent your baby sister in to poison the Prime.”
“No! He killed her.”
Ianto, Jack and Gwen moved then, tackling the two other women to the ground and getting their weapons away from them. With the scuffle behind her, Verla’s attention was momentarily removed from John and Loz.
John made a dive for the gun he had tossed aside earlier.
He looked up just in time to see Verla’s finger move to the trigger as she aimed at Loz once more. Without hesitation, he fired.
Three hours later, John sat in the staff room back at Torchwood, an untouched mug of coffee on the table in front of him. He kept seeing the look in Verla’s eyes, the shock, the pain, as she died in his arms. When he heard the door open, he looked up, curious. The others had tried a few times to talk to him but he had ignored them until they went away again. Now it seemed that they had pulled out the big guns.
Isabella came across the room to him and climbed up onto the couch next to him, offering the teddy bear she had brought with her.
“You can borrow him if you’re sad.”
Outside the room, Jack looked back at Gwen and smiled before closing the door silently. They went back to the Batcave where the others were waiting.
“Operation Isabella is a success,” Jack reported. “You know, I still can’t believe he chose Torchwood over Verla’s crew.”
Loz nodded. “I can’t believe he stood before a loaded weapon for me,” he murmured.
“I guess he’s not so bad after all,” Ianto agreed. Despite their insults and name-calling every now and then, he had come to think of John as a friend. He, like the others, just had not expected John to trade a life among the stars for staying here on Earth. He glanced at the security monitor for the staff room and watched as Isabella laughed at something John said.
Gwen looked around at her new team, so different from five years ago, and smiled. They might be a mixed bunch of ex-assassins, con-men, immortal humans, doctors and computer hackers but she wouldn’t trade them for the world.