ANOTHER WORLD

Mike arrived at Mt Sinai, agitated, tired and generally fed up. Ross had sent him to the hospital to check on Alex, and bring Owen Harper back to One Police Plaza. He had no qualms about checking on Alex, but he resented being ordered to collect Harper, like he was some sort of glorified messenger boy.

Despite all that he'd seen... or perhaps because of it... he still mistrusted the Torchwood lot. He sympathised with the remaining three team members over the abduction of their captain and colleague, but his concerns lay primarily with Bobby. After all, Harkness was apparently indestructible, and if it came down to a choice over who the incredible immortal captain protected from the Grysliaak, Mike was pretty sure it wouldn't be Bobby.

No, he was fairly certain that despite all the declarations of solidarity and cooperation, it was still very much a case of each to their own. Let Torchwood worry about their people, because right then all he cared about was one colleague who was currently in the hospital, and one who was currently at the mercy of a monster.

He slowed to a halt outside Alex’s room, slightly disconcerted to hear the sound of laughter from within. Unable to completely conceal a frown, he rounded the corner and walked into the room.


Alex was propped up in the bed, her head bandaged and looking disturbingly like she had after her abduction twelve months ago. The difference this time, though, was the weary but genuine smile on her face. A smile which, Mike realised with growing irritation, the abrasive Torchwood medic had obviously been able to get out of her.

Owen, for his part, was perched carefully on the edge of the bed, telling her some story that Mike had clearly walked in on halfway through.

“…and so we all go in, practically ready for World War III, and it turns out that the guy who called it in exaggerated justa little. The so-called giant man-eating slug turned out to be the Borellian equivalent of a bloody poodle!”

Alex exploded into laughter, tears leaking from her eyes and rolling down her cheeks.

“He thought it was trying to eat him,” Owen went on, “and he was screaming his bloody head off. Took Jack twenty minutes to calm him down and explain that he basically had a big blob of slime trying to hump his leg. The look on his face was priceless, I’m telling you, and it was almost worth having to clean up afterwards. But the best part… seriously, you had to see it to believe it… was watching Jack get the fucking thing on a leash, and then walk it out to the SUV!”

Alex wiped at her eyes, still laughing at the images that Owen’s words put in her mind.

“What happened to it?” she asked.

“We found its owner, thank God. Damned alien tourists. Mind you, Myfanwy was disappointed. She thought we’d brought her back a live snack.”

“Myfanwy?” Alex echoed, and Owen nodded.

“Our pterodactyl. She came through the rift as a baby and Jack hand-reared her. You might say she’s more or less our mascot now… or club pet… although, she’ll always be Jack’s pterodactyl. Poor thing moped for a month when he disappeared.”

“Don’t know whether to believe half of what you lot say,” Mike said as he came all the way into the hospital room. If Owen was surprised by his entrance, he didn’t let it show.

“You can believe whatever you like, mate. No skin off my nose.”

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Mike walked around to the other side of the bed.

“How’re you feeling, kid?”

“If I didn’t have this jackhammer going off inside my head,” she muttered, “I might take offence to being called kid.”

Mike grinned.

“Lucky for me, then. Seriously, though, how are you feeling?”

“She has a severe concussion,” Owen stated, suddenly completely serious.

“My head hurts like hell,” Alex confirmed bleakly. Mike looked around at Owen.

“Did you ask her anything yet?”

“I was getting to it,” Owen snapped. “My first priority was making sure she’s okay. Not hounding her for answers.”

“Answers to what?” Alex demanded impatiently. Mike sighed and spoke up with reluctance.

“Alex, we need you to think. When you were in the café with Bobby and those two…”

“Oi, those two have names,” Owen growled, and Alex nodded in agreement, only to cringe at the sudden shard of pain the movement sent through her skull.

“Jack and Ianto,” she mumbled, shutting her eyes and waiting for the worst of the pain to subside. Mike threw a frown at her, which she completely missed.

“So now you’re on first name terms with them too?”

Alex’s glared at him with as much ferocity as she could muster.

“What about them, Mike?”

He seemed to realise he was treading on thin ice, and spoke in a considerably gentler tone.

“Try and think carefully, Alex. Did Harkness say anything while you and Bobby were with him? Anything at all that might help us deal with the… you know… it.”

Owen uttered a short, abrasive laugh.

“Bloody hell, you can’t even say it, can you?”

Mike glared at Owen.

“The Grysliaak, all right? Did he say anything about the Grysliaak?”

“Like what?” Alex asked. “If you think he had some secret way to catch it, then forget it. He didn’t.”

“Look,” Mike said with just a hint of impatience, “what did you talk about? Tell us everything you can remember.”

Alex’s breath caught in her throat as she found herself remembering the terrible and heartbreaking memories that Jack had shown them. She knew the courage it must have taken him to let them see such personal and devastating memories such as those, and she wasn’t going to betray his trust by telling Mike about them.

“What is it?” Mike asked, but Alex shook her head slowly.

“Nothing,” she murmured, her eyes deliberately fixed on the blanket. “It’s not relevant.”

Frustration flashed in Mike’s eyes.

“C’mon, Alex, you know better than that! Anything that happened between when you guys all walked out of One Police Plaza, to when you were attacked is relevant.”

The look she fired at him, though, silenced him very effectively.

“I said, it’s not relevant. Don’t argue with me, Mike. You know damned well that I wouldn’t hold anything back if it was even slightly relevant.”

Mike looked doubtful, but didn’t dispute her again.

“Okay, fine. But isn’t there anything at all?”

Alex shut her eyes against stinging tears.

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to focus right now?”

“I know,” Mike said, at least having the decency to sound a little chastened. “I really am sorry, Alex, but you know I have to ask. You need to try and think, for Bobby’s sake.”

The instant the words were out of his mouth, Mike knew he’d blundered. Alex’s eyes snapped open again, and Mike instinctively drew back from the force of her glare.

“Don’t,” she whispered furiously. “Don’t you dare use Bobby to emotionally blackmail me, Logan.”

“Nice one, mate,” Owen muttered, winning himself a glare from Mike.

“I am not trying to emotionally blackmail you, Alex!” he argued, a hint of desperation appearing in his voice. “The truth is that it seemed like only Harkness had any clue how to deal with this thing, and now he’s out of the picture. So unless someone has some other brilliant idea…”

Owen had stood up by then, and was walking around the bed to confront Mike.

“All right, enough! She doesn’t remember anything!”

“Back off, pal,” Mike growled. “I’m a cop, and this is still our territory.”

Owen snorted.

“I don’t give a flying fig, Detective. This is a hospital, I’m the doctor, and I say enough!”

Alex froze, her breath hitching as she suddenly remembered a secondary conversation as they left the café, just before the Grysliaak attacked them in the alley.

“Alex?” Mike asked softly. “What is it? What are you remembering?”

“The Doctor,” Alex whispered, and felt a slight tremor ripple through her body as the name passed her lips.

“You want a doctor?” Mike asked, barely resist the urge to smirk at Owen.

“No, you idiot,” she snapped, and then turned her attention to Owen. “Not a doctor… The Doctor. I mean the one who was a prisoner on the Valiant with Jack.”

Realisation dawned in Owen’s eyes finally. Yes, he knew who she meant, but his knowledge of the Doctor was limited to what was available about him in the Torchwood archives, and whatever scraps of information that Jack had deigned to divulge to the team.

“Oh, him… What about him, then?”

“He could help,” Alex said anxiously. “Jack said he could help, if everything went wrong.”

“Well, yeah. He probably could help,” Owen conceded. “Except, we have no way of contacting him…” He trailed off, his eyes widening slightly. “Unless… Please tell me Jack told you how to contact him!”

“He didn’t know,” Alex said, “but he gave the name of someone that he said does know. He said we have to contact someone called Martha Jones, and tell her two things. The Captain needs his Doctor, and Grysliaak.”

Mike looked across at Owen, who was frowning deeply.

“Well?”

“Martha Jones,” Owen echoed, a frown creasing his own features. “She was the Doctor’s companion when Jack went racing after him… before everything went to hell with Saxon. He’s talked a bit about her, although nothing really substantial. He tends to just moon over her after he’s had a few, you know? Martha Jones, the woman who saved the world, he calls her. Useless rubbish, frankly. Whether he’s said anything more useful to Ianto, I don’t know, not that it’d help much if he has.”

“But you know how to reach her, right?” Mike pressed. Grimacing, Owen reached up and flicked on his earpiece.

“Tosh!”

Her voice echoed almost instantly in his ear in response.

I’m here, Owen. What do you need?”

“We need the contact details for Martha Jones,” he answered. A brief silence met the request.

Who…?”

“You know! The woman that Jack kept going to mush over when he came home!”

Oh, that Martha Jones. Why didn’t you say so? Stand by, this may take a minute…”

“Well?” Mike asked again.

“She’s running a search,” Owen answered. “A little patience wouldn’t go astray, you know.”

Mike rolled his eyes, but fell quiet. The seconds ticked by with agonising slowness before Owen spoke again.

“Great, Tosh. Thanks, you’re a gem.”

He looked back at Mike.

“I need your mobile phone, Detective.”

Mike hesitated, frowning again.

“Where’s yours?”

“Back at your headquarters, mate,” Owen growled impatiently. “Will you please just give it to me?”

“Mike, just do it!” Alex snapped. Glowering, Mike pulled out his cell phone. Instead of handing it to Owen, though, he held it up to dial the number.

“Give me the number.”

“What?”

“You heard me. I’ll call her. Give me the number.”

Owen groaned, but conceded if only to save as much time as he could.

“Bloody hell… Fine! You can try to explain it. Silly git…”

He repeated the number to Mike, who pressed it into his phone’s keypad, and waited for an answer.


It soon became an unspoken agreement that they were going nowhere until Jack’s body healed. Since neither Bobby nor Ianto could bring themselves to go that extra step and kill him, they had no choice but to wait until either he healed on his own, or the Grysliaak came back. Either way, it proved painful for Jack.

They all knew which was likely to happen first, though.

“So tell me about this Doctor of yours,” Bobby said quietly, breaking the lengthy silence. Jack glanced over at him distractedly. His body seemed to be entering the early stages of repair. There was a steady pain that was starting to permeate his lower half, where before there had been nothing. He still couldn’t move his legs, but he suspected – or rather, hoped – that it wouldn’t be long before he could.

“You want to know about the Doctor? Why?”

Bobby regarded him with a deceptively passive stare.

“You don’t trust easily, that much is obvious. You’re unique among humans, and that makes for a lonely existence, but you’re also reluctant to let anyone get close to you… I can understand that now. It can’t be easy, knowing you’re going to outlive everyone you care about. You admitted yourself that this Doctor knowingly abandoned you, and yet you still trust him implicitly. You still love him. And yes, I remember what you showed us, but even so…”

Jack glanced back over his shoulder at Ianto, extreme discomfort on his face at Bobby’s none-too-subtle statement. Ianto, however, smiled reassuringly and pressed a gently kiss to his cheek.

“It’s all right, Jack. I know you still love him, and I’m okay with that. I understand.”

A soft sigh of resignation escaped Jack. He just didn’t have it in him to argue with either one of them right then.

“So what do you want to know, then?”

“How did you meet him?” Bobby wondered, and a small smile touched Jack’s lips as he remembered a night in London during the Blitz – so very long ago now.

“It was World War II. The first time…”

“I’m sorry, the first time?” Bobby echoed. Jack nodded.

“Yes. I lived through World War II twice, although admittedly, I was only there for a few months the first time round. The second time I had to live through the entire thing.”

“So what were you doing in London, during the Blitz, the first time?” Bobby questioned with a wry smile. Jack, however, didn’t smile, and when he spoke it was with uncharacteristic uncertainty, and neither Bobby nor Ianto could be sure exactly who it was that Jack was speaking to at that moment.

“There’s something you need to understand. When I skipped out on the Time Agency, I had nothing. No money, no transport… nothing but the clothes I was wearing. They’d even stripped me of two years’ worth of memories. I had to survive somehow, so I did the only thing I could.”

“You ran cons,” Bobby guessed, and Jack answered with a quick nod. He didn’t dare look to see the expression on Ianto’s face.

“Yeah. I’m not proud of it now, but yeah, I was a con man. Most of the time I tried to stick to targeting time agents... ones who didn’t know me. Occasionally I’d go outside that, but only when I had to. Although, I have to say I don’t regret talking Ay’lia into letting me take her ship for a spin. Stealing that baby was the best thing I did out of a whole list of bad things, because it eventually led me to the Doctor. But I never wanted to hurt anyone. I just wanted to get by.”

“So what happened during the London Blitz?” Bobby asked, deciding to shift the conversation along.

“I screwed up,” Jack admitted in a voice that was laced with guilt. “I screwed up in a big way. I found what I thought was just a piece of space junk, and I threw it at the Doctor’s ship and let him chase it to Earth. Only problem was that it wasn’t junk, and it wasn’t empty. I won’t go into details, but it was bad. But he fixed it. He figured it all out, and he fixed it. He figured it out, and he fixed it. And then, even after the damage I’d done, he still saved my sorry ass.” Jack paused, drawing in a long, steadying breath as he was assaulted by memories that he had long buried deep beneath the surface of his own mind. “There was this bomb due to drop on the site where the… space junk landed, and it would have killed a lot of people. I caught it with the tractor beam of my ship, and took it out of the Earth’s atmosphere. I couldn’t get rid of it after that, though. It was going to blow up, and take me with it. I would have deserved it, too. Not disputing that. But that particular incarnation of the Doctor was strong on giving people second chances… although, I think in my case that Rose might have had something to do with it. Anyway, they rescued me, and I just stayed with them. I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“Do you regret it?” Bobby asked, and Jack answered emphatically, and without hesitation.

“No. I don’t, not for a second. Staying with the Doctor and Rose… even for that short time… made me re-evaluate myself. I had to change, and start taking responsibility. I don’t regret that.”

“I’d like to meet this Doctor,” Bobby murmured. Jack smiled wistfully.

“I think he’d like you, Bobby. You’re smart, you’re open-minded and you care about the people around you. He doesn’t tolerate apathy or unkindness. He told me more than once that there’s no excuse for not trying to do the right thing.”

“He sounds like an incredible person.”

“He is,” Jack confirmed, his voice suddenly sounding suspiciously choked. “He really is.”

“And that’s his name?” Bobby wondered. “Just… the Doctor?”

Jack smiled, although his good humour was tempered by the pain he was in – both physical and emotional.

“He has a lot of names. The best one I heard was ‘The Oncoming Storm’. That’s what the Daleks called him, and they were right. But ‘Doctor’ is the name he chose for himself. No one knows what his real name is. I think sometimes that he doesn’t know himself anymore. Nine hundred and twenty-five years, and I guess he can be forgiven for having a little memory loss, right?”

Bobby couldn’t conceal his astonishment.

“That’s how old he is?”

“Give or take a few years,” Jack confirmed. “He’s not human, Bobby. The Doctor is a Time Lord, from Gallifrey.”

Silence met Jack’s words, and nearly a minute passed before Bobby spoke again.

“Time Lord…? As in, he can travel through time?”

Jack smiled, pleased with Bobby’s astuteness.

“Got it in one. He’s alone now, though. The last of his race, the only Time Lord left in existence.”

A sad smile touched Bobby’s lips at that.

“You’re two of a kind, then, by virtue of your own uniqueness. Is he immortal, too?”

“Not in the same way I am,” Jack murmured. He frowned as he was momentarily distracted by the realisation that he could wiggle his toes again. “He will eventually die… but not for a long time yet, and for him a long time might be another nine hundred years.”

“There must be some comfort in that,” Ianto spoke up awkwardly. “Knowing that he’ll still be around for a long time to come when the rest of us…”

“I try not to think too far ahead,” Jack cut him off quietly. “It’s not healthy, and it just makes my head spin, trying to think how long I’m going to live for, especially when I’ve been one hundred trillion years into the future. No, I’d prefer to just think about the here and now, thanks very much. Gotta live in the… ah, shit!”

“Jack, what is it?” Ianto asked anxiously.

“My body… it’s healing… and it hurts! Damn…”

“Do you want me to lie you down?”

“No,” Jack gasped, grasping anxiously for Ianto’s arm, to keep it where it was around his chest. “Please, Ianto, just… just hold me. It won’t last for long… I hope…”

A strangled sob escaped him as his shattered spine began to repair itself, sending waves of excruciating agony through him as nerves fused and bones knitted back together. Through the pain, he was aware of Ianto’s arms wrapped around him, and the young man’s lips pressing soft, reassuring kisses to the back of his neck in a futile effort to distract him from the pain, As another agonising wave swept through him, though, he became aware of another hand – large, strong and warm – slipping into his own and holding on tightly.

Jack found himself clinging to Ianto’s arm with one hand, and gripping Bobby’s hand with the other in a vice-like grip, and all the while trying desperately not to writhe from the pain he was in.

At some point, he became aware of Ianto shifting and easing him down onto his back on the floor, with his head resting on Ianto’s lap. The move exacerbated what was already crippling pain as the slowly mending vertebrae shifted to accommodate his body’s new position, and Jack screamed, and screamed, and screamed…


Mike let the phone ring out before closing it again and looking to Owen in frustration.

“No answer. Any other bright ideas?”

“Fuck,” Owen muttered.

“I’ll take that as a no, then,” Mike said dryly.

“You two had better get back,” Alex said softly, unable to conceal her disappointment. “Maybe they’ve come up with something back at the squad room.”

“Jack will do everything he can to keep your partner safe, Detective,” Owen told her solemnly. Mike looked grim, but he refrained from speaking until they were both well clear of the hospital room.

“Let’s just hope it’s enough, because if Bobby dies…”

“You’re just all full and sweetness and light, aren’t you?” Owen retorted.

“I’m just saying…”

“Well, don’t,” Owen snapped. “You’re not helping anybody, least of all Bobby.”

Mike scowled but said nothing more, and they rode down the rest of the way in heavy silence.


When Jack came back to awareness, his head still rested on Ianto’s lap, and cool hands ran gently over his forehead and hair in a soothing motion. Most importantly, though, there was no pain. His eyes flickered open slowly to find Ianto watching him with a sweet smile that was filled with concern.

“Welcome back.”

Jack hesitated just a moment before attempting to lever himself up. Still no pain, and with the exception of a slight wobble in his arms, his strength seemed to be returning to his body. Better still, he mused, it seemed that he’d regained full feeling and mobility below the waist.

“Back to normal?” Bobby queried, and Jack smiled grimly.

“Define normal.”

Bobby didn’t respond to the wry remark, but rather waited patiently for a seriously reply.

“Yeah, more or less,” Jack confirmed. “And I’m not paralysed anymore.” He looked around quizzically at his two companions. “Did I die?”

“No,” Ianto told him. “You didn’t. We thought for a moment that your heart was going to give out, but it didn’t. You healed without dying.”

“Not sure if that’s a good thing or not,” Jack murmured. Slowly, he got to his feet, if only to confirm to himself that the spinal injury was really healed, and the paralysis gone.

“Now,” he said with fresh enthusiasm, “we can get the hell out of here.”

“How, Jack?” Ianto asked with the slightest hint of impatience. “We have no weapons, and no way to get out of this cage.”

Jack walked over to the cage door for a closer look. There was nothing fancy about the means of their incarceration. There was no electronic lock, nothing that might have needed alien tech to get it open. It was a simple chain and padlock.

He stared at it intently. His strength was coming back, but was it enough?

“Jack, what do you think you’re doing?” Ianto asked.

“You can’t break that chain with your bare hands,” Bobby said wearily. Jack grimaced as he put all his returning strength into his efforts.

“One thing I never mentioned… I’m stronger than average… I mean alot stronger. On the Valiant, we planned a distraction so the Doctor could get the Master’s weapon. You both saw where I was held, how I was chained up between two pillars. Well, I ripped those chains right out of the pillars.”

Ianto opened his mouth to make a comment, but Bobby touched his arm and shook his head.

Let him try, he mouthed to Ianto, and younger man nodded somewhat reluctantly. He supposed he could see Jack’s point of view. Better to try and dosomething, no matter how futile it seemed, than just sit around and wait to die.

The minutes ticked by, and the silence was broken only by the grunts of effort that Jack was making. Finally, Ianto was about to tell him to stop, when Jack suddenly uttered wordless yell, and the padlock snapped in his hands, sending the chain to the floor in a broken coil. Bobby and Ianto stared at him, their stunned looks making Jack laugh.

“You two should see your faces.”

“You did it…” Ianto said incredulously as he walked over and stared down at the chain. “You really did it! I didn’t think you… I mean…”

“Ye of little faith,” Jack retorted. “Now, are we going to get out of here or not?”

“Lead the way,” Bobby told him with a relieved grin.


“One thing,” Jack told them as they made their way along a dim corridor. “If the Grysliaak shows up, forget about me. Just get yourselves out. Understand?”

Ianto frowned, unimpressed with Jack's apparent determination to sacrifice himself.

“Jack, I will not leave you behind. What is it going to take to make you understand that?”

“He's right, though,” Bobby said softly, winning himself an angry glare from the Welshman. “If at least one of us can get out of here, then we can bring back help. It's the sensible thing... the logical thing.”

“There you go,” Jack said insistently. Bobby, however, then swung back to look intently at the Captain.

“Except, I never was one for behaving logically. You may be right, but I agree with Ianto. We're not abandoning you to that thing, so don't ask us to.”

Jack looked from Bobby to Ianto in frustration.

“You're both pains in the ass. You know that?”

Both men grinned unapologetically, and Jack sighed in defeat.

“Fine. I guess we'll just have to make sure all three of us get out of here, then. Let's go.”

He strode away, muttering something under his breath about knowing what the Doctor meant about companions not doing what they were told. Bobby and Ianto watched him go in amusement.

“Thankyou,” Ianto told Bobby quietly. “I think that sometimes, Jack just doesn't realise that he doesn't always need to sacrifice himself.”

“I can understand that,” Bobby murmured. “But he does understand loyalty and love. Otherwise, we would have had a bigger fight on our hands.”

“I used to think that love was something Jack had no real concept of,” Ianto admitted. “But I was so wrong. He understands love better than any of us.”

“No man could live for a hundred and seventy years and not know love,” Bobby pointed out.

“True,” Ianto agreed. “But I think Jack learned what love really was before he became immortal. I think he learned what it was from the Doctor.”

Bobby nodded.

“I think you may be right. It would explain his feelings for him.” He paused, and then added uncomfortably, “I don't mean to... you know... disparage what's between you two.”

“It's all right,” Ianto reassured him. “I know that Jack will always love the Doctor, because it's the Doctor who's responsible for him being the man he is today... and I don't mean the immortality bit. I'm okay with it, because I know he loves me, too. It's hard to explain, but I know I never have to worry about trying to compete with the Doctor for Jack. He loves us both, and he wouldn't deliberately betray either one of us for the other.”

“For someone who's been through so much, he still has a lot of love to share,” Bobby mused. Ianto smiled wistfully.

“Yes. He does.”

And then, suddenly, Jack's voice cut into their discussion, hard and impatient.

“Are you two coming?”

Exchanging wry smiles, the two men headed off after Jack.


“Where are we?” Ianto wondered. “Bobby? Do you have any idea?”

Bobby looked around them slowly, taking in the unfamiliar surrounds.

“Looks like a decommissioned power plant.”

“That'd be about right for Grysliaak,” Jack said. “Must only be a recent decommission, though. There must still be enough residue power running through the place to attract the Grysliaak. It wouldn't come here if the place was a dead cell.”

“Which narrows it down to a couple of possibilities,” Bobby concluded. “There are two power plants that were decommissioned within the last couple of months. The Brennen Power Plant on Long Island, and the Davis Plant on Staten Island. I'm not sure which one this is.”

“Narrows it down, at least,” Jack said, patting him on the shoulder. “Now, next step is to get out of this building. Look for an exit sign, gentlemen.”

“There,” Ianto said breathlessly, pointing off to the right, to a doorway at the end of a long corridor that was clearly maked 'exit'.

They were halfway there when a new sound shattered the quiet. Aninhuman cry of rage split the otherwise still atmosphere, sending chills down all of their spines.

“Run!” Jack yelled, planting a hand firmly on the shoulder of each man and propelling them towards the door. “Go!”

“Jack?” Ianto yelled, even as he broke into a run.

“I'm right behind you,” Jack shouted back. “Just keep going!”

They ran, focused exclusively on the door ahead of them, and the freedom that they hoped lay on the other side. Ianto got there first, nearly weeping with relief as it opened easily. He held it open, and said a silent prayer of gratitude as first Bobby and then Jack charged through. Jack paused just long enough to push the door shut behind them and turn the manual lock.

“Is that really going to slow it down?” Bobby wondered.

“Probably not,” Jack answered. “But it makes me feel better. Let's go, c'mon!”

They found themselves in what looked like an administration area, full of office cubicles. A quick look revealed what they were all looking for – an exit on the far side of the room.

“Go,” Jack hissed.

They started towards it, when an angry voice reached them from the other side of the door.

Jack! Where are you? Come back and give yourself up, and I'll let your friends go. You know you can't escape me, Jack. But if you don't come back right now, I promise you that I'll drain them both dry. Can you hear me, Jack?

“Jack, don't you dare,” Ianto whispered hoarsely. The Captain shook his head, and there was a small spark of fear just visible in his eyes that, in a perverse sort of way, gave Ianto some small measure of reassurance.

“Don't worry,” Jack said. “I wasn't planning on doing anything except getting the hell outta here. Now c'mon. Let's keep moving.”

They moved swiftly through the offices until they finally reached the reception area and, finally, the outside.

“We need to hide,” Ianto said hoarsely, but Jack shook his head.

“No. There's no hiding from that thing. We have to keep moving.” He paused, his gaze going to Bobby. “Are you okay?”

The big detective looked more than a little red-faced from exertion, but he nodded nonetheless.

“Fine. I'm okay. Let's just keep going.”

Jack looked around, trying to decide which way to go. Bobby took the choice out of his hands, though, pointing away down a deserted road.

“That way. There's the gate. There should be a guard box there... Even if there's no one around, there should be a phone there that we can use.”

“Assuming the Grysliaak hasn't shorted it out already,” Ianto remarked flatly.

They took off again, running literally for their lives, with the Grysliaak's angry howls in their ears. What felt like hours later, and yet might only have been a matter of seconds, they came to an electronically sealed gate. Jack charged into the guard's box, only to curse angrily.

“Damn it! It's a key code lock!”

“What if we just short circuit the system?” Ianto wondered, but Jack shook his head.

“No good. If I smash it, or try to short circuit it, the gate will jam. I need to break the code.”

Ianto glanced back, his breath catching in his throat.

“Hurry, Jack. It's coming.”

As Jack went to work on the key code, Bobby grabbed the phone.

“It's working!” he exclaimed, and quickly dialled a memorised number. It was answered after a couple of rings, and a gruff and impatient voice sounded on the other end.

Ross.”

Bobby didn't think he had ever been so glad to hear his captain's voice.

“Captain, it's Goren.”

The startled silence on the other end of the line was palpable, and a few seconds passed before Ross found his voice again.

Goren? How...?

“We got away, Captain, but we're trapped.” There was a sharp crackle through the phone line, causing Bobby to hiss and yank the phone away from his ear.

Goren? Are you still there?

“I'm here, Captain, but we don't have long.”

Where are you? Do you know?

“We're not sure,” Bobby answered. “It's either the Brennen Plant on Long Island, or the Davis Plant on Staten Island...”

As Bobby spoke, fresh electricity surged through the line, crackling and hissing explosively. When it ended, the line was dead. At the same moment, Jack yelped and jumped back as power surged through the guard's box, shorting out everything, including the gate controls.

“Dead,” Jack said in a hoarse voice. “It's all dead. I can't get the gate open.” He swung around to look at Bobby. “Did you get through?”

“I don't know,” Bobby whispered as he dropped the phone handle back into its cradle. “I don't know if Captain Ross heard me or not.”

“Jack!” Ianto said sharply. “Can't you feel it?”

Jack looked up and, sure enough, he could feel the sudden charge of electricity in the air. Their captor was coming for them, and they all knew what was going to happen when it got there.

“We have to go. We have to find another way out.” He paused, and when neither Bobby nor Ianto moved, he yelled at them both in an attempt to jerk them back into action. “We have to go, now! Move it!”

Bobby went first, emerging back out into the open. He'd barely made it three steps when an almost deafening crack split the air, and Bobby was lifted clean off his feet and thrown hard into the nearby gate. From there, he slid to the ground, and lay there unmoving.

“Bobby!” Jack yelled, but had no chance to go to him. An instant later, Ianto was ripped clean out of the guard's box, with no time even to scream. Jack nearly tripped getting out, only to freeze just outside the doorway of the box.

The Grysliaak looked up from where it crouched over Ianto, almost completely humanised in its form. It had the younger man pinned completely to the ground with a strength that was anything but human, its mouth open against Ianto's throat and visibly sparking with electricity.

“Get away from him,” Jack whispered, his fingers itching to reach for a gun that wasn't on his hip.

“You defied me, Jack,” the monster rasped. “You ran away from me again. Why should I do what you want?”

Slowly, Jack moved out into the open, arms outstretched in what he hoped was a placating gesture.

“You don't want him. You know you don't.”

“Oh no? I think this one would taste very sweet, Jack.”

“No!” Jack burst out, panic just audible in his voice. “No, you don't want him. Just... leave him be.”

“Why, Jack? Tell me why I don't want him.” The Grysliaak grinned viciously, not lifting its head from where it hovered barely centimetres above Ianto's throat. Jack sucked in a shuddering breath as he struggled to reconcile his deepset fear of the Grysliaak against an even deeper terror of losing Ianto.

When he spoke, it was with a preternatural calm that belied the very real turmoil he was in.

“Because I'm here. I'm the one you want.” He tried to swallow, but his throat was utterly dry. He spoke again in a slightly strangled voice. “Take me.”

For a long moment, it seemed the Grysliaak was going to refuse, and take Ianto anyway. Jack was just on the cusp of risking an outright assault when, without warning, it launched itself forward. Jack had no time to shout before he was tackled violently to the ground, and the monster's mouth locked onto his throat.

Pain... Blinding, crippling pain... Screaming... Screaming until he could scream no more... And then, finally, darkness, sweet darkness...

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