Pairing/s - Jack / Ianto, John / Loz, Gwen / Rhys, Nicholas / Lizzie
Rating - R-15
Summary - Jack and Ianto return after 5 years to find a lot of changes and a few old faces. Follows on from Eternity- probably best to read that first.
Old Town New
Chapter 10 – Out of Time (Pt 1)
“What the hell did you do?”
John looked around at where the car park had been only moments earlier before glaring at Jack.
Jack glared back. “I didn’t do anything.” He glanced around on the ground for the artefact he had dropped when the world had shifted around them. “Where is the damn thing?”
Unfortunately, the little round metallic disc that they had found was nowhere to be seen. Just like the rest of Cardiff, despite the fact they were standing slap-bang in the middle of it.
“I don’t understand- it was inactive. It can’t have done this,” he said, checking his wristband. Luckily, that was still working.
It should have been a simple retrieval; just collect the alien whatever-it-was that Gwen had detected as it dropped through the rift. That was why she called them. Jack, John, Loz, Ianto and Adrian were having a boys’ night out at a pub close to where the rift had spat out its latest piece of flotsam. What shouldn’t have happened was this, whatever this was.
The object had been right where Gwen said it would be and Jack had picked it up to put it in plastic zipper-top bag when…
Ianto still wasn’t sure what had happened. One moment they were chatting as they collected it and the next, there was a rumble, like thunder when it was right overhead, and the static charge in the air had made the hairs on his arms stand on end.
He looked around at the wide grassy field they were standing in, to the woodlands that were to the edge. In the valley below, he could see evidence of a primitive settlement, nothing more than wood huts. In the distance, a larger estate could be seen, the house, much larger and grander than those nearby.
Next to him, Jack looked out over it, his expression blank.
“Jack, any ideas?”
Jack turned and forced a smile, even though Ianto could see straight through it.
“Well, Dorothy, I think it’s safe to say we’re not in Kansas any more.”
John checked his own wristband, staring at it before giving it a gentle smack and then reading it again. When he looked up, his eyes were wide.
“According to this, we’re still in Cardiff,” he said, “Or at least, where Cardiff is going to be in a couple of thousand years’ time.”
“What?” Adrian was shaking his head as though denying it could undo it. “That can’t be right. Check again.”
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “Mine says the same; it’s right. Question is, what now?”
“We find that doohickey and we reverse whatever it did, that’s what we do now,” Adrian said.
“Or maybe we should head for the trees,” Loz suggested. When everyone turned to him, he pointed to the horizon. “Those horsemen appear to be heading our way and they do not look like a welcoming committee.”
Ianto had to agree; there were four riders coming toward them, the horses’ hooves pounding across the field. They would be here in no time.
“Now would be a good time,” Loz urged, setting off at a run and dragging John along by the hand. Everyone else was seconds behind them.
They reached the tree line only moments before the horsemen, heading for the thickest undergrowth where, hopefully, the riders wouldn’t be able to follow. Everyone crouched in the bushes, silently trying to will the men away.
Ten minutes later, after a quick scan of the area, they decided it was safe to move once more.
“What was that?” Adrian demanded. “Who were they and what was their problem?”
“I think a better question is ‘who are they?’,” Jack said quietly, his body tensing and his eyes fixed on something just behind Loz and John.
Loz began to turn to see what he was watching when he felt cold steel against his throat, an arm going around his chest to hold him still. More people stepped out of the shadows, from hiding places behind tree trunks. All of them were armed with the same vicious-looking broadswords or daggers, their clothing roughly made from animal hides and furs.
“Oh, give us a bloody break!”
Jack kicked Adrian as subtly as he could in order to shut him up. There wasn’t any point in antagonising these people any more than they had already, and having Adrian launch into one of his rants would likely do that.
The man holding Loz pressed the blade a little harder against his skin, enough to draw a spot of red blood on his throat.
“Would you please refrain from doing that,” John asked him calmly. “Because if you hurt him again, I’m going to have to kick your arse.”
The men looked at each other and any doubts that Ianto had regarding a language barrier evaporated as they laughed.
“What the hell are you laughing at?” John asked, eyes narrowing as he glared around at them all.
“Your threats are empty, little man; you are not worthy of challenging me.”
John smiled, making Ianto feel suddenly nervous. That smile only ever led to trouble.
John nodded to Loz, and he kicked back into his captor’s knee at the same time as John wrenched his wrist away, sword and all, and twisted it. The sword clattered to the floor as the man clutched his wrist to him. John dropped low to the ground and, with a round kick, swept the man’s feet out from under him. As Loz picked up the fallen sword, using it to keep the others back, John crouched down until he could look the man in the eyes.
“Not worthy, eh?” he laughed derisively, stood, and walked away. “Egotistical prick.” Looking around at the other strangers, suddenly not seeming quite as sure of themselves, he smiled pleasantly. “Anyone else want to try?”
One man stepped forward but before he had taken more than a couple of paces, a voice stopped him.
John looked around as the man he had dropped to the ground began to get up, dusting himself off. Coming over to John, he nodded.
“Not bad.” He clapped John on the back, almost knocking him over, a surprised grin on his face.
The other men kept their blades raised, however, still keeping an eye on Jack and the others.
“What are you doing here?” one demanded. “If you intend to take us back to your masters, you will not succeed. We would die first.”
Ianto edged a little further away from the blade as the man waved it angrily. “We aren’t here to take you anywhere,” he said.
“But you led them to the wood!”
Now Ianto realised what he meant. “Ah, no, we didn’t. I think you’ll find that those men on the horses were chasing us. Who were they anyway?”
It took some time before the strangers accepted that they really didn’t know who the riders were; in fact, they seemed shocked that anyone didn’t know who they were. Two hours later, Jack sat with Ianto in a roughly disguised lean-to. The camp they were in was spread among the trees, using branches and leaves to blend the huts and shelters into the undergrowth. Surrounded on two sides by high foliage, the other sides were blocked by stick-built fences. It was a good disguise; until they had been led in through the narrow gap in the fences, Ianto hadn’t even realised that the camp was here.
“What are we supposed to do, Jack?” he asked. “Just sit here and hope that whatever happened will spontaneously undo itself?”
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “I honestly don’t know.” At Ianto’s look of dismay, he put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him in closer, pressing a kiss to his temple. He didn’t know what else to say; he had no clue as to how they were meant to fix this. “Look on the bright side; you and me’ll still be young and pretty, even if we have to wait until we get back to our time.”
Ianto sighed. “I suppose, but I don’t fancy sitting around and waiting for a couple of thousand years.”
“Neither do I, and we won’t have to. We’ll sort this somehow.” Jack glanced up to where their hosts were gathered around the cooking pot in the centre of the camp. John, Loz and Adrian had already sat themselves down had been given a metal bowl each. “Come on, it looks like dinner is served.”
Over dinner- stewed wild rabbit as far as Ianto could guess, not that he was willing to look too closely- they learned who the riders were who had been pursuing them earlier. In accordance to the way their luck was going so far, they had arrived in the middle of a war or sorts. Their Celtic hosts had been forced into hiding here in the woodlands by the landowners, though that wasn’t exactly how the Celts had described them. Invaders, murderers, thieves; and they were some of the politer descriptions. The invaders had arrived to settle what they saw as an uncivilised land, slowly forcing out the occupants or enslaving them.
Eoghan and his small band of hold-outs had escaped into the woodlands and had been fighting back ever since. There were others, they said, other groups who were trying to reclaim their lands and freedoms whilst evading capture.
Jack could see the expressions on the others’ faces and expected that they matched his own. Now not only did they have to find a way back but they were going to be hunted every step of the way. By associating themselves with the Celts, they had inherited their enemies too.
It had been three days since anyone had seen the boys. Gwen had even tried calling Ianto’s sister in the hope that he had contacted her. Had she worked anywhere else but Torchwood, she would have found it completely unbelievable that five men could vanish without a trace, but this was her life. Weird stuff happened all of the time, which was why she was getting worried.
“I has to have something to do with that thingumy-jigg,” Rhys said. “The one you sent them to collect.”
“I know, but I don’t know what. Jack would probably know, or John or Loz…” She sighed. “Then again, when we actually find the bloody thing we might have a better chance of figuring out what it is!”
Lizzie and Nicholas had already gone back to the spot where the rift had dropped the debris, Gwen was on her way to join them as soon as she had taken Isabella to school. She had spent most of the past three days looking for the rest of her team but she was determined that Isabella’s routine would not be interrupted. Her daughter seemed to know that something was wrong and had begun asking where Uncle John, Uncle Ianto and Uncle Jack were.
As soon as she had seen Isabella safely into the building, she went to join Lizzie and Nicholas. They didn’t even know what they were looking for but Gwen’s gut told her that they had to find it. Goodness only knew what was happening to the boys or where they were, and Gwen felt responsible for them. After all, she was the one who had sent them to collect the rift debris.
Ianto felt a bit ridiculous in the leather ‘armour’ that they had given him to wear. He wanted his suit back, but that hadn’t been entirely practical, and it certainly wouldn’t protect him from blades should they run into the enemy. Their idea of keeping a low profile had fallen by the wayside almost straight away; if they were going to stay in the camp, then they had to help. That meant food raids, since there wasn’t enough in the camp for the original occupants as well as the five extra people. Most of the Celts’ food came from the nearby village- all enemy territory- stolen along with anything else they could find that would both help them and hinder their enemy.
“I look like an extra from Xena,” he complained.
Jack smirked and reached over to run his hand over Ianto’s arse, now encased in leather. “I like it. It’s sexy; you have no idea how much I want to drag you inside and rip it off you again.”
Ianto laughed. “Is there anything that doesn’t turn you on?”
Jack’s smirk grew wider. “’Haven’t found it yet,” he replied happily. With a quick glance to make sure that they were alone, he gripped the front of Ianto’s trouser waistband and hauled him close before kissing the breath out of him.
“Hey, hands off- I’m armed, remember?”
“I know. Very macho,” Jack teased, not looking in the slightest bit unsettled by the half-sword that Ianto had strapped in the scabbard at his waist. He pulled Ianto nearer, close enough that Ianto could feel just how turned on he was by seeing his lover in this gear. Seeing Ianto in armour and leather, with the sword, was like a fantasy come true; he wondered if he could persuade Ianto to dress like this back home once in a while…
“Put him down, Harkness,” John ordered, sounding amused. He passed them by on his way to the group of warriors who were preparing to leave. “You can play with him later.”
Jack sighed and took a reluctant step back, taking Ianto’s hand and joining the others.
It was only as they were leaving the village with their spoils that trouble erupted. They had managed to stay undetected until that point but as they left, one of the guards spotted them and raised the alarm. They had no option but to fight. It was more difficult than he had ever thought to fight with a sword, even the half-sword that Ianto had been given, and he was lucky that Caradec was there when the guard attacked him. Ianto was no match for these people- and he was selfishly relieved to see that the others were all doing as badly as him. All except Loz, that was. The man moved like Errol Flynn in the old movies, all fluidic grace and fancy moves.
Caradec delivered a hacking blow to the armour-clad man just as he attacked Ianto again, dropping him to the ground.
Caradec shrugged his shoulders as though to say, ‘it was nothing’. He urged Ianto to run, indicating to where the others had already begun to flee, but as he glanced back, Ianto saw Jack crumple to the ground.
“I’ve got to go back!” he yelled to Caradec, seeing the other man follow him back into the village.
Ianto didn’t hesitate this time, swinging the sword in a wide arc and taking out Jack’s attacker in one slice.
“Jack, come on, we’ve got to get you out of here.”
Ianto hauled Jack to his feet and slung the semi-conscious man’s arm around his neck as Caradec did the same at his other side. Together, they got Jack back to the safety of the woods and back to camp. Meilyr, the nearest thing the Celts had to a physician, looked at his companions and shook his head minutely before going to Ianto and crouching beside him where he sat with Jack.
“He is gravely wounded, Ianto.”
Ianto ignored him. Jack wasn’t dead, he knew that because he was still breathing. Had Jack actually died, Ianto would have too thanks to their shared lifeline. He didn’t even feel woozy, as he tended to if Jack was injured and close to death. No, he just needed time to recover. He saw the men standing around him, looking on with expressions of pity as they expected the worst, and heard Adrian trying to explain.
“He’ll be fine, trust me. Jack and Ianto aren’t exactly the same as us-”
The words had barely left his mouth when Jack suddenly sat up, his eyes wide as he ripped open the leather tunic and inspected the place under the blood-stained hole in his clothing. There was nothing to be seen. Ianto grinned and threw his arms around Jack; no matter how many times this happened and how he knew that Jack would heal, he never stopped worrying.
Around him, the Celts stepped back as one, staring at Jack as though he were some kind of demon.
“What are you?” Meilyr asked.
To be continued…
A/N- Historical references are used here with a rather large pinch of artistic license.