A/N: No, I hadn't forgotten about this one... or my other fics. My muse took a sudden, very vicious detour, and it took much negotiation to get her to cooperate again. In the meanwhile, all I can say is poor, poor Jack. I am back to my sadistic best. If you care to see for yourselves, check out the website "A Teaspoon and an Open Mind", and look for my profile there. Same moniker. Enjoy. More or less. Probably less.
He’d come to a decision, after an indeterminable time spent arguing with himself over the rights and wrongs of it. Neither Ianto nor Bobby would be happy with him over it, but with any luck they would both be well out of danger by the time they realised what he was doing.
It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the Doctor. He did, with every fibre of his being. But he had no way of knowing whether the Doctor even knew he was in trouble. Ianto had said that Detective Eames was smart, and he agreed wholeheartedly. She was smart, but she’d also taken a damned hard knock to the head, from what he’d seen. There was no telling when, or if, she would even remember what he’d said about contacting Martha and passing on that message.
He couldn’t risk placing all his hope and trust... or the lives of Bobby and Ianto, for that matter... in one big, fat ‘maybe’.
Gritting his teeth, he got awkwardly to his feet, and was grateful that he no longer suffering weak knees… or weak anything else, for that matter. His strength was coming back quickly, and it was time to get himself and his companions the hell out of there.
“Jack, what are you doing?”
He looked around to see both Ianto and Bobby watching him suspiciously. It was Ianto who had spoken, though.
“Getting us out of here. Bobby, do you have any idea at all where we are?”
Bobby paused, sniffing the dank air carefully.
“We’re not in the sewers… but I think we are in one of the parallel tunnels... a service tunnel. If I’m right, then we might be able to find a connecting tunnel to get into the old subway tunnels.”
Ianto looked from Bobby to Jack with a carefully veiled gaze.
“If. Rather a long shot, isn't it?”
Jack turned to his lover, struggling to suppress his frustration.
“Ianto, I figure we have two choices here. We risk trying to get ourselves out of here, or we sit around hoping for a rescue that might not come. Either way, I risk losing the two of you and, personally, I'd prefer to at least be trying to do something, instead of sitting here on my ass, waiting for that monster to come back!”
Bobby and Ianto exchanged looks, followed by knowing grins, and all of a sudden Jack had the feeling that they had just been waiting for him to come to a decision. The two men got to their feet, and Ianto stepped across to kiss Jack lightly.
“About bloody time, sir.”
“You were both waiting on me,” Jack said flatly. Bobby quirked a smile at him.
“Pretty much. There wasn't much point us pushing to do something when you were still conficted over what to do. Now we're all on the same page, we can make a real effort to escape.”
“And if it had come back while I was still procrastinating?”
Bobby lifted his shoulders in a half-shrug.
“Well, we could always have just punched it out again.”
Jack laughed softly.
“Bobby, I really want you on my team.
“We'll negotiate later,” Bobby answered, and the ambiguous answer thoroughly intrigued Jack. “For now, let's just find a way out of here.”
Ianto pausing to straighten his woefully filthy suit in a slightly bizarre effort to retain some personal dignity, given their situation. Then, he looked passively towards Bobby.
“Which way, then?”
Bobby pointed down a long, dark tunnel.
They had been walking for nearly five minutes in near pitch-black conditions. Bobby led the way, moving carefully with his hands stretched out in front of him, and testing each step before committing to it. It was slow going, but they all took relief in the knowledge that so far there was no indication they were being chased. Ianto was close behind Bobby, and Jack brought up the rear. The other two men knew well enough why he insisted on that, and neither had the inclination to argue with him.
Right at that point, all any of them wanted was to get out of there... wherever there really was.
And so they continued on, through the darkness of the underground tunnels, walking almost blind and only hoping that they might find their way out.
“Light,” Ianto pointed out suddenly, keeping his voice to a whisper. Both Bobby and Jack could see he was right. Where just a couple of minutes ago they had been cloaked in near complete darkness, now they found themselves bathed in a very pale light.
“Where's it coming from?” Jack wondered. “Are we near the surface?”
“I don't think so,” Bobby murmured. “Remember I said some of these tunnels adjoined the older disused subway tunnels? Well, some of those tunnels still have a bit of electricity running through them, just enough to power the lights and air shafts, so that workers can carry out regular maintenance. It might be light from those tunnels filtering into here. At least, I hope it is.”
“Should we be looking for a door?” Ianto wondered.
“A hatchway of some sort in the walls,” Bobby answered. “It should be somewhere around here.”
Silence fell as they searched anxiously along the walls, looking for some way through into the subway tunnels that Bobby had talked about. It was Jack who found the way through, scraping away the build-up of dirt to reveal a an old wooden door. With a strained grunt, Jack forced it open to reveal a much larger and semi-well lit tunnel on the other side.
“Nice going, Bobby,” Jack praised him with a big grin. “Okay, let's...”
His words were cut off abruptly as a familiar howl shattered the quiet.
“Here we go again,” Ianto muttered. Jack motioned quickly to the hatchway.
“Go on, both of you. Hurry up!”
Ianto went, aided in part by Jack grabbing him by the arm and physically propelling him through the door. Bobby, however, hesitated.
“What the hell are you waiting for?” Jack demanded. “Get going!”
“Tell me, Jack,” Bobby asked soberly, “what are you going to do as soon as I go through there? Are you going to follow me through? Or are you planning on shutting that door and letting that thing take you in some warped gesture of nobility so that Ianto and I can get away?”
Jack stared tensely at Bobby. He knew instantly that there was no point in lying. Even in the brief time that he'd known the detective, he had already come to recognise that determined look in the other man's eyes. There would be no swaying him, and definitely no lying about it.
“We can't outrun it,” Jack said softly. “This is the only way. Don't you get that?”
“I get that you think you're doing us a favour,” Bobby conceded. “On the other hand, I know that you're not.”
Ianto had come back then, stepping back through the hatchway and looking from Bobby to Jack in concern and frustration.
“What's going on?”
“Jack wants us to go on, while he stays behind,” Bobby said bluntly before Jack could get a word in. The anger that flooded Ianto's face had Jack wanting to cringe right away from the younger man.
“Damn it, Jack, we will not leave you behind!” Ianto burst out. “How much time do we have to keep wasting having this argument?”
“You don't get it, neither of you get it!” Jack exploded. “I don't want to be left behind! I want to get out with the both of you, but that's not going to happen! It's too fast now, and too strong!”
“And you staying behind achieves what, exactly?” Bobby wanted to know.
“If I stay behind,” Jack insisted, “then it'll give you a chance to get out, get help, and then you can come back for me! Don't you get it? I'm relying on you to come back for me!”
Bobby and Ianto exchanged pointed looks that had Jack thinking that they'd already planned something between them. All of a sudden, he felt more than a little hesitant.
“We're sorry, Jack,” Bobby said quietly. “It doesn't work like that.”
Jack eyed Bobby with incredulity.
“What? Look, you two...”
“I am really, really sorry,” Bobby apologised calmly. Before Jack had a chance to ask why, Bobby’s arm snaked out and, with almost deadly precision, he pinched a specific spot near the base of his neck. Jack went down like a sack of potatoes, collapsing unconscious into Ianto's waiting arms.
“He's so going to kill us,” Ianto remarked dryly as he and Bobby manoeuvred Jack's limp body through the hatchway. Bobby grimaced as he pulled the hatch closed behind them and then hauled Jack up over his shoulder.
“Let's hope we get out of here to give him that chance.”
The Tardis materialised, and the Doctor was out the door almost before any of them knew what was going on. Martha followed close behind, more used to his frenetic movement than his current companion. Donna hurried out after her, with Alex, Ross and the rest of the Torchwood team right behind her.
“Where the hell are we?” Owen asked, looking around at their surroundings with a frown.
“Subway tunnels,” Ross stated grimly. “Not the current tunnels, though. This is one of the old tunnels. It hasn't been an active part of the subway system in over a decade. Now it's used more like a service tunnel, for general maintenance.”
“Doctor?” Martha asked anxiously. “Which way?”
The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver out and was quickly adjusting the setting. He frowned deeply as he turned in a slow circle, until the device uttered a loud beep.
“That way,” he announced, pointing down the dimly lit tunnel with the screwdriver. He looked around at those who had come with him, and his expression darkened considerably at the sight of so many weapons being pulled out and primed.
“You're Jack's team, all right,” he said as he eyed Owen, Gwen and Tosh with a scathing look. Owen waved his gun with a barely-concealed smirk.
“Stun gun, Doctor. Contrary to what you might think, we're not as trigger-happy as some of our predecessors.”
The Doctor snorted, and they knew full well that it was the only approval he was likely to give them on the weapons front. He then turned his gaze to Alex and Ross, both of whom were carrying automatic guns.
“Put those away, now.”
“You can't be serious,” Ross started to argue, only to be brought up short by a force-ten glare from the Doctor.
“Oh, I'm deadly serious. Put it away, or you don't go any further. No one is killing anything today, if I can help it.”
“Then what, exactly, are you going to do with that... thing when we find it?” Alex demanded to know.
“I'll give it a chance,” the Doctor answered coolly. “One chance, to leave this planet and never come back. I'll take it where it can exist without harming anyone, if that's what it wants.”
“What it wants?” Alex exploded. “That monster killed your friend! Or doesn't he mean that much to you after all? Did you really mean it when you told him he was worth fighting for? Or were you lying through your teeth when you told him that?”
Silence descended like a weight on them all as the Doctor walked forward until he was almost nose to nose with Alex. To her credit, she didn't back away, but the look on her face suggested she knew she'd just made an enormous faux pas.
“How do you know about that?”
Alex struggled not to flinch, and when she spoke it was in a whisper that was more a belated attempt at discretion, than fear of the Doctor.
“Jack showed us.”
“Me, Bobby and Ianto... He... He showed us his memories.”
The Doctor stood frozen, torn over reacting to that news, and focusing on the issues at hand. Finally, he chose the latter. Jack's memories were, ultimately, his own domain and who he did or didn't show them to was his choice and his right. He paused, momentarily lost to his own memories as an astonishing realisation struck. For Jack to have been able to show that particular moment to others meant that he did, indeed, remember it. Despite what both he and the Master had believed at the time, Jack had to have been aware at least on some very minor level during that brief period on the Valiant.
Which led the Doctor to another realisation, and one that was enough to bring the threat of tears. Jack knew how much he loved him. After all they’d been through together, after everything he had done, Jack knew and remembered. More than that, it seemed he had been clinging to that knowledge to survive.
Fresh determination surged through the Doctor. He was not going to let his friend down. Not again. Swinging around, he slapped his hands and rubbed them together almost manically.
“All right, let's go!”
Ross looked across at Alex in concern as the others hurried away along the tunnel.
“Eames, are you all right?”
She nodded, feeling slightly shaken and trying desperately not to let it show.
“I... I'm fine, Captain. I just... I think...”
“What is it?”
She stood frozen for a long moment before looking at him in disbelief.
“I think he took my gun!”
Ross looked down and, sure enough, her gun hand was empty.
She shook her head, her head spinning.
“I don't think I want to know.”
Just then, the Doctor's voice floated back to them.
“Are you coming or not?”
Exchanging rueful looks, Ross and Alex hurried after the Doctor and his companions.
How Bobby was able to keep walking while burdened with Jack’s not-insubstantial weight, Ianto didn’t honestly know. He wanted to help, but his broken arm effectively put paid to any notions of sharing the load, as it were.
“Ianto, you need to keep walking. I can’t carry you both.”
The Welshman blinked, and realised with a start that he’d fallen some metres behind.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, wondering dully if it was just the pain of his broken arm that was slowing him down, or if he was actually suffering from some degree of shock.
“Don’t apologise,” Bobby told him. “Just try to keep up. I said I wasn’t leaving Jack behind. Same goes for you, too.”
Ianto regarded Bobby with fresh appreciation.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, your captain is a fool for not appreciating you.”
Discomfort flashed across Bobby’s features at the quiet praise.
“It… It’s not all him. I’m not the easiest person to deal with.”
Ianto uttered a short laugh.
“Neither is Jack. Trust me, there are times when he can be an utter bastard. But that doesn’t stop us from appreciating him. It shouldn’t stop your captain from appreciating you.” Ianto paused, trying to put his thoughts into a cohesive order before speaking again. “You deserve to be somewhere that you are appreciated.”
“I’m flattered,” Bobby murmured. “I really am…”
“But?” Ianto queried.
“But I couldn’t go anywhere without Alex. I… I don’t cope well without her.”
Ianto hesitated for just a moment before asking his next question.
“Are you two in a relationship?”
“No,” Bobby answered. He was quietly surprised at his lack of indignation to a question that had won multiple others a fist to the face. Perhaps, he mused, it wasn’t the question itself, but rather the way it was asked that mattered, and there was no offence in Ianto’s tone; just simple, harmless curiosity. “No, we’re partners and friends, not lovers. She’s my best friend. I… I just don’t do very well without her.”
“I think you may be underestimating yourself.”
Bobby shook his head stubbornly.
“No, I’m not. You don’t understand. Before Alex agreed to partner me, no one else lasted longer than a month. Most of them labelled me a whack job. Even the Chief of Police thinks that. But Alex… She gave me a chance, and she didn’t make superficial judgments. She stuck it out… She stayed, Ianto. No one else stayed. I at least owe it to her not to just walk out on her.”
A small smile ghosted across Ianto’s lips.
“Are you sure you’re not secretly married, Bobby? You sound like an old married couple to me.”
Bobby laughed softly, seeing the harmless teasing for what it was. Ianto fell quiet, considering Bobby’s words. He knew Jack would certainly appreciate Bobby’s sense of loyalty to his partner. On a scale of one to ten, Ianto knew that Jack rated loyalty a very strong eleven. He wondered, though, whether Bobby’s loyalty to the NYPD was as deep-set.
“Well… What if you were to come to Torchwood together?”
Bobby halted, an astonished look on his face.
Ianto couldn’t quite conceal the grin that was struggling to appear on his face. The stunned expression on Bobby’s face was priceless.
“Jack wants you on the team, Bobby. I don’t think that it would be too hard to convince him that Alex would be equally as much of an asset.”
Bobby shifted awkwardly under the deadweight that was Jack.
“Well… Let’s just concentrate on getting out of here first.”
Ianto smirked faintly as they started moving again.
“Just out of curiosity,” Ianto asked, “what exactly did you do to Jack, anyway?”
“I aimed for a particular set of nerves in his neck,” Bobby answered. “Pinch them just hard enough, and you’re out like a light.”
“You learned that in the NYPD?” Ianto asked in surprise. Bobby smiled somewhat sheepishly.
“No. My eighth grade science teacher showed me, after I got the crap beaten out of me at lunchtime one day by the school bully. I used it on him the next day. He never harassed me again.”
Ianto laughed softly as they continued along the tunnel.
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