Ianto awoke slowly, fighting a powerful urge to just go straight back to sleep. He slumped in the chair for a long while in a semi-daze before finally focusing on the bed that he sat beside. His heart skipped straight into his throat. The bed was empty; Jack was gone.

For a long moment, Ianto nearly panicked. But then he heard it – the sound of someone crying. Twisting around in his seat, he was met with a sight that at once broke his heart, and had him wanting to melt into a puddle of relief. Jack sat on the floor nearby, hugging Eleya to him and sobbing uncontrollably. Galvanised into action, Ianto abandoned the comfort of the chair and sank to the floor beside Jack.

“You’re awake,” Ianto whispered, slipping an arm around his shoulders. “Thank God, you’re awake.”

If Jack heard him, or even realised that Ianto was there, he gave no sign of it. Instead, he continued to weep copious tears that soaked into his daughter’s silver-streaked hair. Feeling more than a touch of fear, Ianto reached out to cup Jack’s face tenderly, and guided him to look up.

“Jack, look at me.”

The anguish in Jack’s eyes very nearly broke the younger man, but he made a concerted effort to hold himself together, if only for Jack’s sake.

“What do you remember?”

“Everything,” Jack whispered brokenly. He didn’t fight it when Ianto drew both him and Eleya in close, and quickly lost himself in his tears once more.

Minutes ticked by, stretching out indeterminably. Ianto’s arms started to ache, and his leg muscles were beginning to cramp. He dared not move, though. Not until Jack was ready.

Time slipped past, and it felt like hours to Ianto, even though he logically knew that it had to have been only a few short minutes. Eventually, though, he felt Jack shift in his embrace, and finally pull back.

Ianto held his tongue as he was once again treated to the heart-breaking sight of Jack’s tear-stained face. The last thing Jack needed right then was to be asked a fool question like ‘how are you’.

“Are you thirsty?” Ianto asked, opting for practicalities. “Or hungry?”

“Both,” Jack admitted. “Mostly thirsty, though. And, I think I could do with a shower.”

Ianto smiled faintly.

“You probably could, but that can wait. Do you think you can stand? We’ll go to the kitchen first and get something to eat and drink.”

They sat in the kitchen a short while later, with Ianto looking on as Jack devoured sandwiches, and glass after glass of a substance that looked like lime cordial but, according to Jack, was closer in composition to Gatorade and other such energy drinks. He looked like he hadn’t eaten for months, Ianto mused ruefully.

“How long?” Jack asked suddenly as he carefully tore the crust off a sandwich for Eleya. “Ianto? How long was I out for?”

“Two and a half days,” Ianto answered. He could see no point in lying, not the least of which because he was just no good at lying to his Captain anymore. “There were moments when I wanted to touch you so badly, Jack. It hurt to watch you go through that.”

He couldn’t quite suppress his aggravation, and immediately felt guilty for it as Jack’s gaze dropped in an uncharacteristic display of self-consciousness.

“I’m sorry,” Jack murmured. Sighing, Ianto reached across the table to grasp Jack’s hand.

“Don’t, Jack. Don’t be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m just glad you came through it intact.”

Jack scrubbed his hands over his face.

“I want to tell you, but I hardly know where to start.”

“Well... What about Eleya? You remember her now, don’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I do.” Jack favoured the little girl with a gaze that was so full of love that Ianto wanted to weep. Jack spoke softly, unwilling to let go of Ianto’s hand.

“I was partnered with John. We were running a joint investigation, and we got shirty when our supervisors tried to take over right when we were getting close to getting a positive result. We decided we’d try and catch the target without backup, and it was a mistake. John was nearly killed, and I was taken captive. He... Darien, his name was... He decided to...”

“What, Jack?” Ianto asked softly, quietly dreading the answer.

“To keep me,” Jack admitted, and Ianto stiffened in shock.

“Keep you? You mean, as a slave?”

Jack nodded.

“Pretty much. He called me his pet, and he took me back to his home planet, Mendyr. He smuggled me onto the planet, and told me if I was discovered, then I’d be executed. That the Mendyrians didn’t suffer any outsiders to be on their world. I was scared and alone, and I had no reason not to believe him. I don’t know how long it was before I finally escaped, and I didn’t know it at the time but I was pregnant with this little one.”

Ianto remained silent, waiting for Jack to go on. He did, after downing yet another glassful of the green liquid.

“I was found by a man called Jal. He took me in, and I was sent to Mendyr’s primary Healing House.”

“You were hurt badly, weren’t you?” Ianto asked softly.

“Yeah,” Jack whispered in confirmation. “I was. I nearly died and it was nearly two months before I was fit enough to leave. They took care of me, Ianto. They could have just killed me, but they didn’t. They looked after me, and when I was well again, they offered me a home. Told me I was welcome to stay for as long as I wanted.” He paused, staring at Eleya with what looked to Ianto like regret. The younger man wanted to ask what it was about, but kept silent. Instinct warned him that it was not the right time. Seemingly oblivious, Jack went on.

“I chose to stay, at least until Eleya was born. By that time, I was ready to quit the Time Agency all together... Actually, that’s not strictly true. I made that decision well before Eleya was born. They cared about me on Mendyr, and I didn’t want to have to give that up.”

“I don’t blame you,” Ianto murmured, although he felt a sharp pang at the thought that he and Jack might never have met.

“The Time Agency had other ideas,” Jack said bitterly. “They found out about Eleya, somehow, and they sent a delegation to Mendyr to get me... to get us.”

“And how, exactly, did they manage to gain access to a closed planet?”

Both Jack and Ianto looked up to find the Doctor standing there, watching them with intense interest.

“How long have you been standing there?” Jack asked.

“Oh, not long. Just since... Well... Pretty much the whole time, really.”

Jack sighed.

“Sneaky bastard.”

“Oi! Language, Captain.”

A tired smile flickered across Jack’s face, and he finally answered the question.

“They went through the Shadow Proclamation. The Elder Council couldn’t refuse, unless they wanted an army of Judoon to descend on the place. It was just a ploy. I think the Time Agency knew all along that the Mendyrians wouldn’t just hand me over to them. So they waited until they were back on their shuttle and leaving the atmosphere, and a couple of agents teleported to the planet’s surface, grabbed me and Eleya and teleported back onto the shuttle.”

“Bastards,” Ianto whispered heatedly. Jack nodded in acquiescence.

“We were locked up, and I was told I had until we reached Time Agency Headquarters to say goodbye to Eleya. Then I’d be tried for treason, and either be executed or mind-wiped.”

“So that’s how you came to be separated from Eleya?” Ianto queried.

“Not quite. John was on board the shuttle. He got us out of the cell and put us in an escape pod. A friend of his was waiting when we landed, and he took us to a safe house. We were in hiding for a little over six months before the Time Agency finally caught up with us. I was sold a poisoned cup of coffee, and it made me too sick to escape. I knew what had happened, and why, as soon as I got sick. The friend that got us to the safe house... Joss... He took Eleya out at my request. I made something up about being sick with the flu, and wanting Eleya to get some fresh air, because I knew the Agency was coming for us, and I didn’t want her at risk. They would never have escaped with me in that state, and Joss would never have left me behind. So I lied to him. I was arrested by the Agency less than an hour after they left. Joss was smart, thankfully. He took Eleya and disappeared.” A strangled laugh escaped Jack’s lips. “I was interrogated for days over where Joss had taken Eleya, but I wouldn’t have told them even if I’d known. Their ideas of torture were nothing in comparison to what Darien did to me. So, in the end, they mind-wiped me. Two years of my life gone... I woke up with no memory of any of it, or of Eleya. They thought I’d just go back to work, I suppose, and that I’d be there for them to use if and when they found my little girl. I don’t think they counted on me running, and going rogue. So I spent the next twelve months or so running cons and looking for ways to get my memories back, while Joss and Eleya were in hiding somewhere. Then, I met the Doctor and a girl called Rose during the London Blitz, and the rest is history.”

“What about the pendant?” Ianto wondered. Jack smiled wryly. Ianto never forgot about the details.

“It was something that Kyrii taught me. Kyrii is Jal’s wife, and she was a... retired member of the Elder Council. She taught me how to seal my memories into an object, so that I’d never have to worry about forgetting. She meant for me to use it for anything in particular that I wanted to remember about Eleya, like her first steps or words... her first birthday. It was their equivalent of taking a photo. You embed the memory into an object, and then you can relive it at any time just by touching the object.

“When we went into hiding, I think part of me knew it wouldn’t last, that we’d eventually get caught. If they had killed me, then that would have been it but if they wiped my mind, I wanted to give myself a chance to remember. I bought a pendant for Eleya, and I embedded everything I could remember of the last two years into it. In reality, it was more than two years’ worth because time travels faster on Mendyr. When the Time Agency came to Mendyr to take us away, it had been nearly two years by my reckoning, but only eleven months for them. So even though technically the Agency only stole two years, in reality they stole nearly three.”

“No wonder touching the pendant sent you into shock the first time,” the Doctor mused. “I’m amazed you could withstand the psychic assault.”

“I didn’t have anything else to use,” Jack said with a shrug. “We had nothing when we escaped the Agency and went into hiding, and we had to be so careful whenever we went outside. Usually Joss bought anything we needed or wanted, to reduce the risk of anyone seeing and recognising us. I bought that pendant on a whim from a passing vendor, and in hindsight that’s probably how the Agency found out where we were.”

“Don’t, Jack,” Ianto said quietly. “Don’t start castigating yourself over it. You couldn’t have known.”

Jack nodded, though it was obvious he didn’t really accept the logic of Ianto’s argument.

“Once I’d decided to embed my memories,” Jack went on, “I knew I couldn’t afford to have my memories scattered all over the place. I had to take a chance, and it worked. Although, I have no idea how the pendant ended up here. All I can think of is that it came through the rift with Eleya, and they just ended up in separate locations.”

“Don’t question providence,” Ianto advised him. “Let’s just be grateful that we found them both.”

Jack turned, and lifted Eleya into his lap. The little girl squirmed around and wrapped her arms around his neck in a fierce hug.

“Love you, Dada.”

Jack buried his face in her silver-streaked hair.

“I love you too, baby. I’m never going to lose you again, I swear it.”

Ianto glanced across at the Doctor, and was quietly relieved at the indulgent smile on the Time Lord’s face. He had been worried that the Doctor might have tried to separate Eleya from Jack on the basis of crossed timelines, and he had been prepared to fight to keep that from happening. It was a relief to know that such a fight was not going to be necessary. The Doctor noticed the look Ianto was directing at him, and offered an apologetic smile.

“I tend to live up to my nickname... the Oncoming Storm... even when it’s not warranted, but I would never separate a family if it wasn’t necessary. In this instance, it most certainly isn’t necessary.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Doctor,” Ianto said quietly. “Jack? If you’re feeling all right, I might head back out into the Hub, and make sure everything’s all right. I haven’t had any urgent calls from Tosh, saying that Gwen and Owen have killed each other, but even so...”

Jack smiled wearily.

“Go ahead. I think I might need to lie down for a while in my room before I’m fit to face everyone again.” He looked up at Ianto, and it was all the younger man could do not to flinch at the pallor of Jack’s face. He leaned down on impulse and kissed Jack tenderly on the temple, and then kissed Eleya on the top of her head.

“Be good for Dada, sweetheart. I’ll be back in a while. Doctor.”

The Time Lord stood up to join Ianto.

“I think I might come with you. Better check up on Donna, make sure she hasn’t... Well... Anyway, shall we?”

Ianto rolled his eyes, garnering a wry smile from Jack, and headed out of the kitchen with the Doctor close behind, chattering aimlessly.

“Illy,” Eleya announced matter-of-factly. Jack chuckled softly as he hugged his little girl.

“Yes, he’s silly, but he’s one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known. Tad Anno is another.”

Eleya drew back a little and gazed up at him with those brilliant green eyes.

“Love Tad Anno. Love you. Mu e nomar kuno, Dada.”

Fresh tears stung Jack’s eyes, and he hugged her again.

“No, baby. I won’t lose you again, I promise. The bad people won’t get you, or me. You’re never going to lose me, Lee-lee. Never. I promise you that.”

Some day, he knew he would have to face losing her, but that was his burden to bear. Not hers. All that mattered right then was that she knew she would always have her dada with her, no matter what.

“Had enough?” he asked, offering her another sandwich. Eleya wrinkled her nose, and turned her face away, causing Jack to laugh softly again. “I’ll take that as a definite yes. Okay, baby girl. Let’s go take a nap together.”

“Nai,” Eleya stated firmly, with a pout that was all too obvious in its meaning. Jack kissed her lightly on the cheek as he got up, picking her up at the same time.

“You can keep your protests, Lee-lee. I need a nap, and you do, too. I can see it in your eyes.”

Again, she pouted, but didn’t protest further as he carried her from the kitchen back to the room the TARDIS has set up for them. He was just tucking Eleya into one side of the bed when he heard footsteps, hard and heavy, coming closer and closer. He barely had time to turn around before the door slid open and Ianto skidded in, his face ashen and his expression one of shock and dismay. Jack felt his stomach lurch unpleasantly as he quickly realised something was very, very wrong.


“You need to come, Jack. Quickly. We have a problem.”

Making a snap decision, Jack snatched Eleya’s teddy bear up and pressed it into her arms. He then stroked his fingers lightly against her temples and concentrated. Her wide eyes stared up at him briefly before sliding closed.

“What did you just do?” Ianto asked breathlessly.

“Just another little trick I learned on Mendyr,” Jack murmured. “Generally only ever used it when she was beyond tired, and just wouldn’t go to sleep, but it can have its uses at other times, too. I don’t know what the problem is, but I get the feeling she’ll be better off staying inside the TARDIS.”

Ianto looked grim.

“I think you’re probably right. C’mon, now.”

He took off at a run, with Jack right behind him.

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