Chapter Twelve: Last Resorts
Summary: In the wake of his untimely death, Ianto Jones accepts a deal that will change his life forever.
Rating: Strong T, for now.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Series That Never Was (AKA, Children of Earth); brief description of torture
X-over: Torchwood/Doctor Who/Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.
A/N: I promised I'd have the new chapter up sooner rather than later, and here it is. Thank you to everyone who has commented. I'll do my best to reply individually, but I really appreciate the feedback. Plus, it's nice to know that people are enjoying this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
On a side note, next chapter: Enter the Doctor!
Go Here For Chapter Eleven
As fascinated as he was by a man who appeared not the slightest bit intimidated by him, Ash took care not to prolong his visit. The Brigadier was confident that UNIT was not responsible for Jack's disappearance, and that was all he needed to know.
What it meant was that Jack's disappearance was either supernatural, or it was deliberate on Jack's part. The more he considered it, the more Ash felt certain that Jack had not walked out on Ianto, or on his responsibilities as Ianto's squire. All else aside, and according to Dev, Ianto was right. Jack had taken the reprimand Dev had given him with a stoicism that was usually only attributed to Dark Hunters and Were Hunters. In Dev's own words, any other human would have pissed themselves at the sight of the angry Were bear. Jack had taken everything thrown at him without flinching, and without argument. It seemed inconceivable that he could have then just folded and decided to take off.
The final factor that convinced Ash that Jack had not simply run off was Simi. Ianto was right, Jack adored her. In the short time he'd been a part of their world, Jack had lavished gifts on Simi. They'd been nothing particularly fancy or expensive; rather, simple like cute novelty combs, jewellery and even the occasional bottle of exotic barbecue sauce. The last one amused Ash no end, and thoroughly delighted Simi. Just two weeks prior, Ash had collared Jack for a 'talk', worried that Jack's friendship with Simi was headed in an unsavoury direction. The last thing he needed was for Jack to bed the Charonte demon, and for them to have another situation on their hands like the one with Nick Gautier.
Jack had confessed that he saw Simi not as a potential bedmate, but rather as a surrogate daughter. He'd told Ash about having to leave behind his own daughter and grandson to be with Ianto, when he had only just reconciled with them. Spoiling Simi, Jack had admitted, went just a little way to filling that void. That was something that Ash understood all too well.
That settled it in Ash's mind. Jack would not have abandoned Ianto, and he would not have abandoned Simi. The only questions now, were who was responsible and where had they taken him?
The sinking feeling in the pit of Ash's gut worsened as he reluctantly acknowledged the one possibility that he had yet to consider. He had to know, though, and if it meant initiating contact with the bitch goddess who had made his life a misery for so long, then so be it.
"Artemis," he called out in a tone that was audibly lacking enthusiasm. He was so busy psyching up to face her that it took a couple of minutes to realise she hadn't responded to his admittedly half-arsed summons.
"Artemis!" he bellowed, but there was still no response. "Shit," he swore heatedly. No answer meant nothing good. The problem was working out just what percentage of shit was about to hit the fan – if it hadn't done so already.
Promising that he was going to kill someone, or something before the day was out, Ash teleported himself to Artemis' palace to confront her.
The palace was empty. Aside from a scattering of handmaidens, who screamed and ran at the sight of him, Artemis was nowhere to be found. More to the point, neither was Jack.
As he stood in the chamber where Artemis had extracted her price so many times for the release of a Dark Hunter soul, he sensed that there had been recent activity here, but he couldn't determine what, or who. With a shout of frustration that reverberated through the palace, and sent the handmaidens into a fresh panic, Ash teleported away.
Katra supposed that if she had been an ordinary girl, having her father appear without warning in front of her might have startled her somewhat. She was not an ordinary girl, though. She was about as far from ordinary as a girl could get, even by the standards of the supernatural world in which she lived. Her mother was the Greek goddess Artemis – a fact that was known to precious few and would stay that way. Her father was an Atlantean god. Her maternal grandfather was king of the Greek pantheon and her paternal grandmother was Apollymi, the Atlantean goddess popularly known as the Destroyer. Basically, it was safe to say that she was well used to all kinds of weird, so having her father quite literally pop unannounced into her living room was nothing to be especially startled by.
As soon as she saw his face, though, she knew there was a problem.
"What's wrong, Dad?" she asked, sensing the tension in him was just about ready to blow.
"I can't explain," he answered grimly. "I just need to know, do you know where your mother is? Have you seen her in the last couple of days?"
Katra regarded him incredulously.
"Okay, for you to actually want to know where Mom is, the shit must have well and truly hit the fan. Come clean, Dad. What's going on?"
Ash caved, if only because he was simply incapable of lying and he just didn't pull that evasive, non-answer shit with his daughter.
"Katra, I think she may have kidnapped a human," he admitted. Katra's expression was inscrutable, even as mixed emotions went through her. While she knew her father didn't lie, she also couldn't conceive of the idea that her mother might do something so phenomenally... well, stupid. Kidnapping a human? It was impossible to believe.
"Dad, I know you can't stand Mother, but seriously..."
"This isn't about me getting any sort of revenge on her, Kat," Ash told her. "Firstly, I don't know for certain. Secondly, even if I did, I wouldn't exactly be busting down Zeus's door to tell him. I want to deal with this quietly, with as little bloodshed as possible."
"Well, I'm sorry, but you're barking up the wrong tree. She's stuck attending some celebratory feast that Zeus and Hera decided to throw. She's been there for a couple of days now. When did this human go missing?"
Ash felt a distinct sinking feeling in his gut.
"About twenty-four hours ago, now."
Katra looked as relieved as he looked ill.
"Well, it couldn't possibly have been Mother, then," she stated firmly. Ash wasn't so sure, but he knew better than to provoke his feisty daughter into an argument. When she got going, it was like trying to convince Simi that barbecue sauce was a bad thing. He valued his life more than that.
Maybe the Brigadier had been right. Maybe the reason for Jack's disappearance lay beyond the boundaries of Earth.
For the first time in a long while, Ash found himself at a loss, with no answers. The last time he'd been backed into a corner like this, there had been just one person who he could turn to for advice. Praying fervently that Savitar wouldn't draw and quarter him, Ash teleported himself away to Neratiti.
Once before, Ash had sought Savitar's advice, and had been anxious enough that he'd joined him out of the water. It wasn't an experience he was keen to repeat, but the problem lay in knowing that he could be waiting for days before Savitar came back onto dry land. He also dared not call Savitar in, knowing that it would possibly result in one hell of an ass-kicking. The man simply did not like losing out on any surf time.
Fighting the urge to openly curse Jack again, and whoever was responsible for his disappearance, Ash switched his clothes for a pair of jet black board shorts, manufactured himself a similarly coloured board, and teleported himself out onto the water.
"I'm not going to say a word about you waiting for me," Ash grumbled when he materialised next to an extremely amused Savitar.
"Say what you like. It's worth it to see you in shorts, on a surfboard."
"Evil son of a bitch."
"Now, that would apply if I dematerialised your board, and made you swim to shore."
Ash clutched his board a little tighter, knowing well enough that Savitar could and would make good on his threat.
"Chill," Savitar told him with a chuckle. "You got lucky. There's not another decent wave due for another eleven minutes, and I happen to be a pretty good mood today, so talk."
"One of my squires is missing," Ash said bluntly. He knew from experience not to waste time with platitudes. Savitar was not the kind of guy who took kindly to any degree of time-wasting.
"You're interrupting my wave time because some human couldn't handle the pressure, and decided to cut and run?"
"I'm pretty sure he didn't do that."
"You can't see his life?"
"No, but it isn't for the usual reasons. This human is different. He's immortal."
Savitar abruptly let out a long string of expletives, almost startling Ash into falling off his surfboard.
"How in the name of fucking Tartarus did you end up with Jack fucking Harkness on your fucking payroll?"
"I take it you know him."
"Know him? I killed the mouthy son of a bitch. Twice! Once before I found out about his fucking immortality."
With a sinking heart, Ash knew then that he would get no help from Savitar.
"Sorry," he apologised. "I'll get out of here. You've still got time to catch that next wave."
Savitar's hand shot out, grabbing Ash's shoulder in a vice-like grip. An instant later, they were back on dry land.
"Sit down," Savitar ordered him, "and start talking."
Ash sat, wisely choosing not to complain about wet shorts and sand in places where sand was never meant to go.
"Artemis created a Dark Hunter using a kid that was killed during the recent alien invasion. Turns out he was Jack Harkness's lover, and Jack wasn't ready to let him go. He found out somehow about the deal Ianto made with Artemis, and he tracked him to New Orleans."
"And you let him stay. Seriously stupid move, Ash."
"Maybe. I'm not going to argue with you. I will say this, though. Jack is a good person."
"So was Nick, before you fucked him over."
Ash bristled, but he knew better than to argue. After all, Savitar was right. He had fucked Nick over.
"Simi adores him," he offered, knowing Savitar had a soft spot for the Charonte.
"She adores Nick, too. You're not helping your cause, Ash."
"I'm pretty sure Artemis has him."
That admission gave Savitar pause.
"Can you prove it?"
"No," Ash said with a sigh. "It's more a gut feeling than an absolute certainty."
"Yeah, well, I'll trust your gut feelings any day, my friend." Savitar rose swiftly, all grace and power even on the shifting sand. "Even if Artemis does have Harkness, it won't do her any good. The only god who could access the power that made Harkness the way he is, is Kronos, and even Artemis wouldn't dare go anywhere near his prison. We both know what she's capable of, though, and no human deserves that... Not even one as irritating as Jack Harkness."
"She might not dare to go near Kronos," Ash mused, "but she might try to trap the Doctor."
Savitar looked at Ash sharply.
"Where did you hear about the Doctor? Did Harkness tell you?"
Overlooking his own surprise at Savitar apparently knowing about the Time Lord, Ash answered sincerely.
"He told me everything, Sav. No holds barred. He knew I couldn't see his life, because of the way he is, and he wanted me to trust him. He told me about the Doctor, the TARDIS, the time vortex and about how he became immortal. If Artemis decides to trap the Doctor..."
"It'll be the worst mistake she'll ever make, and quite possibly the last."
Ash gaped at the blunt, unsympathetic statement. He envisaged major trouble, but here was Savitar suggesting that a clash with this mysterious Time Lord could well result in Artemis' destruction. It was a painfully tempting thought. Savitar smirked unpleasantly.
"Believe me, I've been tempted more than once. Now, though... Assuming Artemis has him, and I think we both know that she does, then there's no time to be playing around. As unlikely as it is that she could somehow unlock the key to Jack's immortality, there's still that tiny possibility that she could do it. We can't risk it. Jack Harkness is one of a kind. No one else can be allowed to become like him. Especially not that bitch Artemis."
Ash concurred wholeheartedly. Somehow, Jack had come to terms with the way he was and had learnt over time not to abuse it to anyone else's detriment. He knew the same would not be able to be said of the likes of Artemis. The gods were arrogant, cruel and dangerous, but with the right tools and in the right circumstances they could be killed. With Jack's specialised brand of immortality, they would be unstoppable.
"I guess a visit to Artemis's temple is in order," Savitar said, sounding as though the very idea was distasteful to him. Ash supposed that it was, and it was a sentiment he could fully understand.
"I've already been there, and she wasn't there," Ash said. "She's nowhere that I can sense her, actually. It doesn't make sense. There is no way that she could hide herself from me that thoroughly."
"Okay," Savitar conceded. "Let's head to Sanctuary, then. I want to talk to the new kid."
They landed smack in the middle of the bar, causing several of the patrons to flee in a panic.
"Just as well we're human-free at the moment," Dev said dryly. "That would've taken some explaining."
"Or, they'd have just mind-wiped everyone and left them drooling at their tables," Remi added. Savitar shot him a warning look.
"Don't test my patience, bear. I didn't have a lot to start with, and it's getting worse with every wave I miss."
Remi held his hands up in surrender.
"Sorry. Backing off now."
"Look at that," Quinn retorted under his breath. "He does have a brain after all. Who'd of thought?"
Ash shot the brothers a threatening look before turning his attention elsewhere.
"Ianto! Get your ass over here."
Ianto approached with visible caution, watching Savitar with all the wariness of prey watching a predator. Savitar eyed him with a mixture of curiosity and pity.
"So you're Jack Harkness's latest conquest. My sympathies, kid."
Ianto's eyebrow lifted, but he said nothing of his immediate suspicions. A hint of a smirk quirked the corners of Savitar's lips.
"C'mon, kid. Let's go somewhere private, and have a little chat.
His hand landed on Ianto's shoulders, and Sanctuary was instantaneously replaced by cool water, gently rippling under a broad and beautiful moonlight vista. Ianto looked around in momentary disorientation, trying to regain his equilibrium. He was sure he recalled being forewarned at some point about Savitar's deep love of the ocean and surfing, but it was another thing entirely to be subjected to it in reality. It didn't help that he'd never been on a surfboard before in his life.
"You're not going to fall off unless I want you to," Savitar told him, "and I'm not likely to want that unless you piss me off. The bad news is, it doesn't take much to piss me off."
Against his better judgement, Ianto forced himself to sit up a little straighter and relax his grip on the sides of the board. He studiously ignored the almost lurid pair of board shorts he was now wearing in place of his chosen garb. This was the infamous Savitar, and if Savitar put him in hot pink shorts with little purple love hearts all over them, he wasn't going to protest. That and, despite all he'd heard, he trusted Savitar to be fair and reasonable.
"You trust me," Savitar mused. "You've never met me before now, and I don't doubt you've heard all sorts of horror stories about what a hard-assed bastard I am, but you trust me. Why?"
"Because I've never met you before, and all I've heard are stories. I have no reason not to trust you. Also, Ash trusts you. That's all I need to know."
"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were being an obsequies little bastard, but you're actually being genuine. Interesting. Are you like this with Harkness?"
"If you mean non-judgemental, then I would hope so. I've tried to be."
"He'd definitely appreciate that, given everything he'd done."
Ianto sighed softly.
"He's no angel. I know that. I know he's done terrible things in his life. So have I. I have no right to judge him."
"It's hard not to be judgemental," Savitar pointed out. "Especially where Harkness is concerned."
"I did say I tried not to be," Ianto pointed out. "I didn't say I always succeeded. But Jack... Yes, he's done some terrible things, but he's done some amazing things as well. Probably the most amazing thing was giving up Torchwood and changing his whole life around for me. Coming to New Orleans, giving up all the authority he had... He could have just mourned me and then moved on with his life, but he didn't. He chose to follow me. I can't describe what that really means to me."
"I love pairings that send the Fates into a screaming fit; especially ones that result in impossible pregnancies."
Ianto blinked owlishly.
"Jack pregnant, or me pregnant?"
Savitar roared with laughter at the ill-concealed panic in Ianto's voice.
"Nice try at hiding your panic, junior, but you can relax. You don't have the internal equipment for it, and even I wouldn't go that far just to fuck with those bitches."
"So Jack can get pregnant," Ianto murmured, more to himself than to Savitar. "I always wondered how serious he was about that."
"I'm going to help you, kid," Savitar said abruptly, "but not for the same reasons everyone might assume."
Ianto never had a chance to ask, and doubted that he would have even if he'd had that chance. An instant later, they were back in Sanctuary – fully clothed, much to Ianto's relief.
"Savitar?" Ash asked.
"How certain are we that Artemis has Jack?" Savitar asked as he pulled out his cell phone.
"I'm positive," Ash answered flatly. "I just don't know how she could keep him hidden from us."
"Ianto ought to have a couple of ideas," Savitar said, and Ianto looked startled.
"Yes, you. Think, junior. The whole planet got moved by those Dalek freaks. They hid this planet, and a few others. How?"
Ianto's breath caught as he recalled a conversation with Jack as they'd gotten rid of that blasted Dalek from the entry way into the Hub.
"So, did the Doctor explain why it took him so long to find us?"
Jack smiled a little.
"Do I detect a note of annoyance, Mr Jones?"
"No, of course not. I was just wondering."
"Mmhmm. Well, it wasn't his fault. The Daleks hid the Earth one second out of synch with the rest of the universe."
"That's really possible."
"Handy trick. Just think, if your wrist strap was that accurate, we wouldn't need to worry about Gwen walking in on us anymore..."
Jack had roared with laughter, and proceeded to chase Ianto down into the archives, where they'd shagged each other senseless. The conversation that had preceded that little session had been consigned to the archives of Ianto's own mind – until now.
"One second," he said tensely. "When the Daleks stole the Earth, they hid it from the Doctor and the Shadow Proclamation by suspending it one second out of sync with the rest of the universe."
"Shadow Proclamation?" Aimee wondered in confusion.
"Galactic United Nations," Savitar said dismissively. "Twice as pompous, and just as impotent."
"But if that's what Artemis has done," Ash said with a frown, "her temple is still there."
"But she wasn't," Savitar agreed. "Or at least, she didn't appear to be."
"How could she pull something like that off?" Ash muttered. "She's got no power over time. None of her pantheon do. Like you said, only Kronos, and she wouldn't dare go anywhere near him. Zeus would kill her himself."
"There's another possibility," Ianto spoke up. "It's something that wouldn't need someone who can control time. There's this thing called a time lock... A friend of mine created one, and it saved me and Gwen from a Dalek that attacked us during that invasion. If she'd found someone who could create one of those, it would lock her and Jack inside a sort of bubble that would keep them outside of time. They could still be in her temple, but no one would know."
"Yeah, not so much caring about the how just yet," Savitar said brusquely. "The question now is how to reach her and get back your pain in the ass squire before he tells her how he got to be the way that he is."
Ianto bristled in indignation at Savitar's words. Intended or not, he'd just insulted Jack unnecessarily.
"He won't cave. He's stronger that you credit him for being."
All around them, everyone cringed at Ianto's confrontational tone – even Ash.
"Easy, kid," Vane murmured, but Ianto was having none of it.
"You may not like him, sir, and you might see him as a waste of oxygen, but he is so much more than that. He endured a year of the worst sort of torture at the hands of a madman; he endured two thousand years of being buried alive beneath Cardiff to stop his own brother from completely destroying everything and everyone he cared about. Yes, he's done terrible things, but there's not many of us here who haven't. You think he'll give in easily to Artemis? I say he won't. Never underestimate him, sir. Never."
By the time Ianto finished speaking, just about all who had been listening had backed right away. Even Ash was watching Savitar with half a mind on Sanctuary's closest exits.
Stunned was not quite the word to adequately describe how they all felt when Savitar suddenly laughed.
"You're loyal, and you've got balls. I like that."
Ianto imagined that had he not already had the complexion of a ghost, that outburst and its potential ramifications might just have given him one. He knew Savitar's reputation well enough to know that exploding like that might well have been the last thing he ever did when it was Savitar on the receiving end. Knowing that, however, he could not bring himself to apologise, and he said as much in a subdued tone.
Savitar clapped him on the shoulder with such strength that Ianto was sure it would have shattered his collar bone, had he been human. As it was, the only thing that saved him from going head over heels was Savitar's grip on him.
"Kid, if you'd capitulated like that, I probably would have had to kill you. Now, let's go kick that heifer bitch's ass all the way to Tartarus."
to be continued...
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