Shooting in the Dark
So, welcome to my new Torchwood story. It will lean on my trilogy Riptide of Time (or as many of you know it Countrycide Aftershocks) but it will work like stand alone story.
We'll follow older version of Jack in after Earth phase chasing around Universe and (surprisingly:) some version of Ianto.
Beta-ed: TattoedLibrarian will provide better flying experience.
The century has passed for Jack Harkness, in his own time line. He had lost count of the numbers of the years he had lived so far. He didn't like to count the two thousands of them that Gray made him spend in the ground dying over and over again. The century he had counted was the century that had passed since Ianto Jones went into the ground, dead and cold. It seemed silly from time to time that he still marked that as a turning point of his life, but he got used to counting the years since then. It was his personal way of measuring how far from his past he had come. The past that contained an angry abandoned Gray, a dead sarcastic Owen, Tosh that had died bravely, and Gwen that got to get old. They were by far closest to family he had in his running around the Universe. He didn't regret their deaths because they had left without regret too.
Ianto's death was somewhat different. Everything about it was different to Jack. He still didn't like to dwell on it. If he got to close he would fall into the old habit of retracing his steps and wondering what in hell made him think that Ianto wouldn't die.
That's why it was so cruel to make Jack watch his face as it was when he died. He had no problem in seeing that face in his memory, it hadn't faded in the years between. That's why he imidiately knew what he was seeing when Ianto's face came into sight. He even wore the same suit. For the briefest of moments he felt hope that somehow he had escaped death, that Jack hadn't watched him die, making himself incapable of ever saving him. Making anyone incapable in saving him. It was a fixed moment in time. The Doctor himself confirmed it with surety that was hard to handle.
"I'm so sorry Jack" he said "you know the way time works, and beside fixed points in time, you're a fact that can't be erased from time, what you do stays."
"It changed once" Jack smiled sadly "but I wasn't in the picture, I didn't see the death, I've only heard of it. I know, sorry to even ask, but there's things you have to ask, especially if you know the answer."
"You got wise on me Jack" Doctor smiled sadly with his young face "let's do something new instead, there's a great new star that is being born on the outer skirts of Truskis space."
Jack smiled and nodded and they went and had fun. It was always fun with the Doctor. And he knew how to handle things.
It would be so much easier to have the Doctor by his side now when that smiling face was looking at him like he knew him, like he felt something for him.
"Hello Jack" it said and Jack got his confirmation that it wasn't real, it couldn't even be connected to a real live Ianto somewhere in the past "you're looking good today, wouldn't you like some coffee?"
"Trianca" Jack shouted "they've sent another one. This one is a bit tricky to handle."
"Why is this one tricky?" she answered annoyed that she had to get up from her console. Being chased across the Universe demanded all her skill and she didn't trust Krent to do it properly himself.
"It just is, please Trianca, I'll make it up to you if they catch us" he pleaded.
"How?" she was angry but her voice came in closer. "By smiling at me while they kill us, you more than once."
Ianto-face blinked before him like he was waking up from a dream.
"No one will kill you Jack" he said with fear "ever, I won't let it happen."
"Let me see, what is special about this one. It looks like any old human" she scorned "just put him in the cell and move on with it."
"Cell Jack?" Ianto frowned. "With the Weevils? What did I do? I just love you, I can't help it."
"Please Tria" Jack growled.
"Oh, I see, an old lover. Where did they get a sample of him? He's handsome I must say."
"I'm his" Ianto-face replied angrily.
"I see honey" Trianca smiled at him with her condescending smile "then let me just direct you to his room, he'll be there shortly."
Jack watched them go, feeling hollow. The real Ianto would never miss her expression and confuse it for something real.
"This one is real loony" she laughed as she came back alone "will we just dissolve it to spare it grief?"
"No" Jack shook his head. Even if it was just Flesh it still looked like Ianto, and probably had quite a share of his memories. His enemy got to know him better by the hour. This stunt was the worst yet. Hopefully he didn't gather much from Jack's responses. Except that he didn't want to go near him. It could be understood like resentment, not something else.
"Then we'll leave it on our first post?" she grinned mischievously. She liked their lost wandering about too much.
"Someone will have to instruct it first, some basic information about his state and place and time where it is. If he doesn't have additional memories, the ones he has aren't sufficient for these times" Jack spoke firmly and orderly while they got back to the bridge.
"How far in your past did they go this time?" she observed him closely trying to find cause of his reaction. "What would be his problem to adjust to new kinds of vehicles and gadgets?"
"His original was before space flight" Jack answered shortly.
"Wow, a retro man, we could keep him for a while just for fun" she laughed.
"No" he replied sitting to the console. The chase was closing in on them. It was as expected, one small ship was in teleportation range, that's how they'd managed to beam him aboard. They could shoot like that when they didn't care in the slightest if their ammo was in the form of a man it or not. If not they would just make another one. In the brief moment Jack wondered how many Ianto's had they fired before this one came through.
Ianto woke up disoriented into brand new world on a spaceship. He remembered an older, harsher Jack on the bridge and dug his head in a pillow, not his pillow, some strange plastic kind of a pillow. You could breathe through it but it felt like plastic. Ianto felt like crying. That wasn't anything new, he often felt that way lately.
He considered becoming a guard to some guarded community, just sitting away idly protecting walls against pesky newsletter bearers and beggars. That was something ordinary. Something boring enough to keep Jack away and about on adventures elsewhere.
He had those kind of fantasies since that day nobody loved Jack enough to stand by him. It made standing by Jack in horrible moments easier. Because that way there was a Ianto out there and his life didn't revolved around Captain Jack's needs. He wasn't in pain over things he couldn't control or change.
Maybe he should have withdrawn to that kind of life earlier, maybe he would as soon as he gets back home to his pillow.
That made him get up and find that older Jack whom he doesn't love. Who didn't care about him. If it was a version of Jack he knew, he was Ianto's best chance of guarding secluded gated community. Maybe it'll be some doomsday cult to make things interesting.