Some notes plotting out the ending of "A Long and Winding Road" that I wrote on Facebook.


It was the shock of the explosion that kept Ianto from reacting at first. He stared at the remains of the building they had been standing next to as if he were zoning in front of the telly, just watching without really absorbing what he was seeing. Sounds were muffled; he thought there might be a siren going off somewhere but the sound wasn't sharp enough and Ianto dismissed it from his awareness.

Something told him to he needed to move, that he wasn't safe where he was, but he couldn't seem to stay focused long enough to figure out how to accomplish that. He drew in a breath, then coughed. The pain as his cheek scrapped against the concrete caused him to curl up and push himself up to his elbows. He stared at the gray pavement and watched several drops of something red splash on the pavement.

Oh, he thought muzzily, blood. Ah, my blood. That's probably not good.

As he watched, fascinated by the slowly expanding puddle of blood, a pair of boots stepped into his line of sight. Ianto blinked at them a few times then frowned, then forgot to breathe when a voice said, "Oh, good. I was hoping you'd survive my little surprise, eye candy."

Ianto pushed off the concrete and tried to scrambled backwards, but the simple act of sitting upright sent Ianto's head spinning nastily. He ended up on his side as a bout of nausea hit.

As he fought down the bile rising up his throat, a boot was pressed to his shoulder and it forced him on to his back. Captain John Hart then crouched down and smiled.

"Must say, you look good all roughed up like that. Beginning to understand why Jack keeps you around."

Jack! Ianto tried to sit up, but was kicked back down when John rose to his feet. Ianto winced as John's heel dug into his shoulder.

"Ah, not yet. Need to make sure you stay right where you are."

"Where's Jack?" Ianto shouted.

"He's just taking a nap over there," John said with a nod of his head over his shoulder. Ianto turned and saw Jack lying on his back close to the shattered building, pieces of burning debris and several still bodies scattered around him. Jack was not breathing.

"He'll be fine," John said nonchalantly as he looked over at Jack. "Needed to knock him out long enough to get him back to Cardiff for a little family reunion without him putting up a fuss. Seemed the easiest way to do it. You, however, I don't need." Ianto sucked in a breath. John turned back and scowled.

"Word of advise, eye candy. Stay out of this." John pressed his lips together in a tight line as he took a step back, then he said softly, "For his sake." Quickly turning around, John strode over to Jack and dug into a pocket. He pulled out the dimensional slider device, grabbed a hold of Jack's arm with his free hand, then activated the device. Both men blinked out of sight.

Ianto swore and staggered to his feet. Pulling out his cell phone, he quickly keyed up a number and waited for someone to answer.

"Fury here," a gravelly voice snapped. "Who the hell is this?"

"He's got Jack!" Ianto shouted as he spun around uselessly trying to figure out what to do next.

"Jones?"

"He took Jack to Cardiff!"

"Whoa- back up, kid; who's got Jack?" Fury shouted.

Ianto leaned against a car and doubled over-- the smell of burning wood and other things suddenly overwhelming him. He tangled the fingers of his free hand in his hair. "Captain Hart," he gasped. "Captain Hart's got Jack."

"Damn it." Ianto heard Fury bark an order-- something about tracking down Mikel-- then he said, "Jones, where are you?"

"I don't know, I don't..." He took a good look around him. Several emergency vehicles were now surrounding the area and people were moving in to help the injured. He scanned what was left of the building on the corner and spotted the tattered remains of the overhang that had been attached to it stretched across the street. "Uh, Nassau Street at Princeton University, near a seafood restaurant, I think? I'm...I'm not sure."

"Right, Stay where you are. I'm sending someone to pick you up." The line went dead.

Ianto looked at the cell in his hand then clenched it tight. "Don't take too long," he whispered as he slid down to the ground and rested his head against the car.



Part 2

Coming back from being dead was never a good experience, and it was always worse when Jack couldn't recognized where he was. It also didn't help that his last memory before dying this time was of an early spring afternoon; not a dark sky with a few stars visible overhead.

As he sucked in a breath- filling lungs that had been empty of air- and curled on his side, his hand came in contact with a wall. It was cold and rough, not brick, no- stone. Pulling himself upright, he found he was leaning against a parapet and over the top edge he found a brightly lit city- a city he quickly recognized.

Cardiff?

"It's about time you got up." Jack spun around and found his old partner standing a few steps away. "Was beginning to think you were going to miss the party," Captain John Hart said as he fiddled with his wristband.

"John?" Jack shook his head then lunged forward. "What have you--" The rest of his words were lost in a cry of pain. A current of electricity seared through Jack and he crashed to his knees. When the current stopped, Jack braced his hands against the floor and fought for breath as his muscles continued to twitch in the aftermath.

"Okay, you need to relax. Hate to have to knock you out again."

"Relax? What...where's Ianto?"

"Eye candy? Oh he's probably still sitting beside that building I blew up to get your attention." John cocked his head to the side as he added thoughtfully, "He should still be conscious, though that cut on his forehead was bleeding pretty heavily." Jack stared at him, his heart clenching at the thought of Ianto wounded and alone. John just shrugged as he checked his wristband again. "Wouldn't worry about him. He's safer there than here.

"Oh, and speaking of your team, who's tall, dark and broody? He threw me off track for about a week- kept expecting you to pop up. Never would have thought you'd get someone new then just throw them to the wolves as you and your little boy toy took off for a holiday."

A sinking feeling hit Jack in the stomach. "John, what's going on? What is it that you what?"

He seemed surprised by the question. "Well-- you, of course. Why else would I be here." He made one final adjustment on his wristband and smiled. "Now, you just sit back and enjoy the show."

Jack pressed his back against the wall and hunched his shoulders, bracing for a blow. "John, please...don't. Whatever it is you're about to do--"

"Too late, Jack." He shook his head, an almost sorrowful look crossing over his features. "It's far, far too late to stop any of this."

John looked down, pressed a button on his wristband, and Jack had no choice but to watch as the city exploded.



Part 3

Ianto had heard of the Helicarrier-- S.H.I.E.L.D.'s aerial platform-- but he never expected to actually see it, let alone land on it. He warily eyed the huge rotor above them, one of four that kept the huge ship airborne, as the helicopter settled on to a big white H to one side of the runway that ran the length of the Helicarrier. At the other end of the ship, Ianto could see another runway running at an angle to the ship's centerline. As the helicopter settled and was locked down, he was startled by a cargo plane crossing in front of them as it roared off into the sky.

It took Ianto several seconds to loosen the death grip he had on his seat so he could exit the helicopter.

Stepping out, Ianto was a little shocked by the cold, but quickly realized he should have expected that, considering the ship was flying just below the few clouds scattered across the sky. As he followed a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent over to the structure rising up on one side of the ship, he experienced a moment of vertigo; the horizon line was below his line of sight and there was no visible railing around the edge of the ship. Ianto made sure to keep the agent between him and the edge.

They stepped in to an elevator and headed down instead of up like Ianto had expected. Eight floors down, they exited and made their way to a large corridor that stretched out to an impossible distance to Ianto's left. Ianto suspected it ran the entire length of the ship. He had to jog a little to catch up with his guide.

When they reached the other end of the corridor, they passed through three security posts then stopped in front of a set of huge doors. The agent stepped to the side, indicating Ianto to go first as the doors slide silently open. Ianto took a step forward, then stopped in surprise.

Directly ahead of him, he could just make out the skyline of New York through the huge windows that curved around from his left, all the way to his right. He took a step forward but was stopped when the agent with him caught his arm and pulled him along. Ianto hadn't even noticed he was on a platform one floor up from the main floor.

By the time they reached the bottom of the stairs, Ianto was beginning to pull himself back together. Agents moved back and forth between the banks of computers scattered across the room and the large holographic table that dominated the center. Ianto quickly spotted two familiar faces standing in front of the holographic table-- Colonel Fury, arms crossed as he studied the shifting markers floating above the terrain that was currently displayed on the table; and Agent Rasali, who was holding a device similar to the one Tosh used whenever they were out of the Hub. He wondered briefly if Jack had given the plans for the device to Fury, or if Tosh had simply hacked into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s system and pulled the plans herself.

At the thought of Jack, Ianto pressed his lips together and took a deep breath. He had to get to Jack; wherever he was, he had to help him. He just wasn't sure how he was going to convince someone like Fury to go along with that idea.
Nick Fury
Catching sight of something out of place in his peripheral vision, Fury turned and spotted Jones. He rolled his good eye then pointed at Jones.

"Someone get a medic up here to clean him up!"

Ianto looked down at himself in surprise at Fury's shout, then realized his suit was stained with blood. He reached up and touched the side of his head and grimaced at the feel of the dried blood his fingers came in contact with. He didn't even remember stopping the bleeding, he had been so desperate to do something to get to Jack.

Stepping over to Fury, he looked at the table and was surprised to see the corner he had been standing at 15 minutes earlier displayed across the surface.

"So what the hell happened over there?"

Before Ianto could answer, the scene on the table switched to another city street, which looked in about the same state as the one he had been on.

Fury noticed the shift and nodded. "Yeah, there were four explosions in total. Not sure yet if Hart was covering his bases, or just tryin to make it look like a terrorist attack. My guess, it's probably both."

"I don't know. I...he said he needed to knock Jack out long enough to get him to a..." Ianto frowned, and shook his head. "Something about a family reunion?"

"Damn." He turned to stare at the holo table.

Grimacing as the medic cleaned his cut, Ianto decided to take a stab in the dark. "This is about Gray, isn't it?"

"So you did do some searching after that little comment I made at Jack when I broke into your apartment a few years back, did ya?"

"Uh yes, I did. And the last time we saw Hart, he showed Jack a hologram and said that he had found him. Shook Jack up, but he never explained why."

"No, he wouldn't have. So Hart took Jack back to Cardiff?"

"That's what he said, yes."

"Okay then." Fury looked at Rasali. "What's their ETA?"

Rasali checked her device. "Our agents should be in Cardiff airspace in 20 minutes."

"Probably should pinpoint where the hell Jack is before they get there. Pull Jack's file and get SIGINT and MASINT to track down that wristband of his."

"You can do that?" Ianto asked.

"Hell, we can do anything. It will take a few-"

"Got it." Rasali said.

"Already?"

"Uh, yes sir. Actually, we have four contacts." She pressed a button on her device and called up two maps to display on the table.

"According to SIGINT, there are three contacts in Cardiff- one intermittent, two solid- and one in New York. They are trying to narrow down exactly where the contacts are."

"Four contacts? What the hell?"

Rasali frowned at her device. "MASINT says that the contact in New York matches one of the contacts in Cardiff. The other two have slight variations to their power signatures."

"Wonderful," Fury muttered, "that's just what i want to here right now. Damn it, Jack- just can't make things easy can you?"

"What is it?"

"I'm guessin the contact in New York is Jack crossing his own timeline."

"Uh oh,"

"Okay, that the last thing I want to hear right now, Rasali."

"SIGINT has a lock on the New York contact. It is in Central Park, and it's um..."

"Spit it out!"

"It's six point five feet down, sir."

"What?" Ianto stared at Rasali. He couldn't be hearing that right.

"Of course it is." Fury looked across the room. "Carter! Contact S.H.I.E.L.D. Central and have them send an excavation team to Central Park! Rasali has the coordinates. I want that team digging before I get there, Carter!" He pointed at Rasali. "I want you to pull Jack's measurements and pull a clean uniform for him and follow us down- I'm betting he's gonna need it." He then pointed at Ianto and headed for the exit. "You, with me."

Not knowing what else to do, Ianto followed.



Part 4

As the elevator came to a stop on the fourth floor, Ianto looked at the scowl on Colonel Fury's face and said, "Maybe the contact in New York is just Jack's wristband." He didn't want to think that it was truly Jack that was six feet under; with Jack's healing ability, he'd be trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth until he could be dug up.

Fury shook his head and stepped out of the elevator as soon as the door opened. "Jack's luck doesn't run that way."

Ianto followed Fury out onto the hanger deck of the Hellicarrier. Fighters were lined up along the opposite walls while on their side were several helicopters and land based vehicles. Ianto expected Fury to head for one of the helicopters, but was surprised when he passed them and headed for the vehicles instead. When Fury pulled out a remote key and pressed a button, causing the locks on a red Shelby Cobra that was hidden behind a black Humvee to click in response, Ianto stopped and stared.

"Well, get in," Fury said as he dropped into the driver's seat. "I ain't waiting for ya."

Frowning, Ianto got in, then noticed the seatbelt was a four point number that held the passenger firmly in place. He was still buckling in when Fury hit the gas. They roared down the center of the hanger deck, then Fury hit the brakes, spinning the car around so they were facing in the opposite direction.

As the section of the floor rose up, Fury started punching buttons on the console. A Heads Up Display appeared across the windshield, and a satellite map appeared on a panel in the center of the dashboard with a red dot at the center of the island of Manhattan indicating their destination. He then handed Ianto a headset similar to the one he had worn in the helicopter.

When they reached the flight deck, Fury looked over at a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with a yellow strip running across his uniform and waited until the man made a gesture before stepping on the gas. By the time they passed the helicopter Ianto had flown in on, the speedometer on the Cobra was at 160 and the end of the runway was approaching much too fast for Ianto's comfort. A chuckle in his headset turned Ianto's head.

'Might want to brace yourself!" Fury said as the Cobra hit the incline at the end of the runway and sailed into the sky. Ianto didn't think he could brace himself any more than he had, but he did close his eyes and swore loudly.

When he realized that he was not experiencing the sensation of falling, he cautiously opened his eyes. The Cobra was smoothly gliding down towards the New York skyline. Ianto gave Fury a dark look. He got another chuckle. Instead of explaining how the Cobra was doing what it was doing, Fury said, "Learn a few a those from Jack, did ya?"

Ianto closed his eyes again, slumped into his seat, and waited for his pulse to slow down.



Part 5

By the time they reached Central Park, the area the readings were coming from had been blocked off and the excavation team had managed to dig about a meter down with a yellow backhoe. A table had been set up to one side and two agents were huddled around a laptop while a third paced out the area around the hole being dug while swinging what looked like a metal detector back and forth.

"What have you got?" Fury asked as he walked over to the table.

One of the agents nodded at the screen. "According to the scan, there is a body down there. We've started digging to one side and once we get within 20 centimeters, we'll switch to the other side and clear another strip. After that, we should excavate by hand to keep from damaging the body."

Fury looked at the hole. "Any idea of how long ago it was buried?"

"Rough guess, approximately 2000 years ago."

"What?" Ianto gasped. Fury grabbed his arm and forced him into a folding chair by the table, then he shook his head.

"Dig till you get within 10 centimeters."

"But-"

"Do it. Also want a med team standing by."

"For a corpse?" the agent asked,surprised. When he got a glare for an answer, the agent backed up and nodded once. "They're on their way, Colonel."

As the agent stepped away from the table to call up a medical team, Fury turned to Ianto and asked, "You hangin in there, kid?"

Ianto shook his head, then wrapped his arms around his waist and doubled over, fighting back the urge to vomit. 2000 years? Jack's been buried down there for 2000 years? He closed his eyes and sucked in several deep breaths, his face heating up as the need to be sick got stronger. There was a dull thump; when Ianto opened his eyes, he found a trash bin sitting in front of him. Grabbing the bin, Ianto gave in and threw up into it. Once the urge had run it's course, something tapped him on the shoulder. Looking up, he saw Fury holding a bottle of water and a package of aspirin.

The water was cool and Ianto used the first two mouthfuls to rinse out the bitter aftertaste before downing the aspirin. When he was finally able to straighten, he asked, "Why would he do this to Jack?"

"Might not have been Hart that put him there," Fury answered as he crossed his arms and leaned back against the table.

"Gray?"

"Possibly. I meant more that this might not be your Jack."

Ianto tried to figure out what Fury meant by that, but his head was beginning to throb. "I don't understand."

"I mean this might be a Jack from a hell of a lot further down his personal timeline." Fury shrugged. "Probably isn't though. Either way, he's going to be a Jack that can tell us what's going on- that is if he hasn't gone nuts stuck down there." He scowled and turned to watch the excavation team shift the backhoe to enlarge the hole. A shrug. "Just gonna have to wait and see."



Part 6

The Hub was dark as Ianto cautiously made his way over to Jack's office. He swung his flashlight back and forth, stepping around chunks of concrete that had fallen from the ceiling. What had caused the damage was not clear- Ianto felt he should know, but the information remained just out of reach. All he did know was that he had to find Jack, though why he thought Jack was here also remained out of reach.

He made his was up the stairs to Jack's office, then paused. The office was the same as he had last seen it, but he knew that was not right. Gwen should have moved something, Ianto thought, then frowned. Why would Gwen have moved something? He shook his head and stepped over to the hatch in the floor that lead down to Jack's quarters. He placed his hand on the handle, took a deep breath, then pulled. He froze at the sight of the dirt that was revealed. Ianto dropped the flashlight, the light tossing huge shadows around the room as it rolled away.

"Jack?" The dirt was cold as Ianto desperately started digging. "Jack!"

"Jones."

Ianto jerked upright at the sound of Fury's voice, his eyes flying open as his hands reached down to grab the edge of the table. He immediately shut them again and groaned; obviously he had not been asleep that long if it was still that bright out.

Cautiously opening his eyes, Ianto saw that the backhoe was heading out of the cordoned off area and a ladder had been lowered into the hole. Several high powered spotlights now ringed the hole. Beyond the hole was a semi trailer, and off to his left a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter was landing.

Guess I needed that nap if I didn't hear any of that, Ianto thought then blinked at Fury when the man said, "Come on. Hope you don't mind trashing that suit you're wearing."

Ianto looked down at his torn and bloodstained suit. "Don't think I can trash it any more than I have."

"Oh, I'm sure we'll find a way."

Following Fury over to the hole, Ianto leaned over and looked inside. Small stakes had been set up in a vaguely human shape and the dirt had been dig down outside the stakes. Fury spoke to two agents standing by the ladder, then glanced over at the helicopter. Agent Rasali jumped down- a package tucked under one arm, a hand held device in the other- and jogged over to where they were standing.

"Status?" Fury asked.

Mala shook her head. "Our agents had to land outside the city; the interference from the Rift was causing too many problems for the pilot to get any closer. We are still unable to contact agent Fury, and there seems to be several incidents in progress around the city." She glanced down to consult her device. "One at St. Helen's Hospital, one at Cardiff Central Police Station, and one at the Central Server Building. MASINT indicates that there are Rift spikes happening at each location."

Nodded. "Sounds like the main event is about to start over there. Any more incidents around here?"

"Nothing that seems related to this."

"Right. Better get Jack moving then." Fury started down the ladder.

When he got to the bottom, Ianto wasn't sure what to do. He moved to the side to make room for the two agents Fury had been talking to, then looked at Fury.

Fury stepped to one side of the marked off area and pointed to the two agents. "Stay there until I call. You," he pointed at Ianto, "get over here." He knelt down and started digging.

Kneeling down opposite Fury, Ianto had to bite back a groan when Fury uncovered Jack's wristband. He started working on the dirt covering Jack's face- his fingers quickly stiffening up from the cold soil. When he exposed a patch of skin, Ianto found Jack was as cold as the soil he had been buried in.

He carefully brushed the dirt from Jack's face, then started working on the dirt covering his chest, when Jack suddenly twitched.

"Damn it." Jack's whole body jerked, and his eyes snapped open. Fury pressed a hand down on Jack's chest to keep him from struggling. Jack grabbed his arms and tried to suck in some air, but immediately choked on a mouthful of dirt. Fury swore as Jack's lips started to turn blue and pulled out his gun-- shooting Jack in the head. He really hated when Jack made him do that.

"Jack!" When Jack's eyes opened, Ianto started to lean forward, but jumped back when Fury suddenly pulled out a gun and pressed it to Jack's forehead. The sound of the gunshot was deafening.

He stared at Fury, then shouted, "You shot him!"

"Good to see you still have a grasp of the obvious, Jones." Fury looked up at his two agents. "McPherson, clear his airways before he wakes up again. Simpson, get that sedative ready. Don't want to knock him out, just want to take the edge off."

He looked at Jones as he continued to remove the dirt still covering Jack. "If you ain't gonna help, get out of the way."

Ianto shook his head, then leaned forward to help Fury.

When Fury saw McPherson suddenly pull her hands away from Jack's head, he saw the bullet hole in the middle of Jack's forehead was beginning to close up.

"Get that out, Mac." As she pulled the tube she had shoved down Jack's throat to clear it, he looked over at Ianto. "Help me sit him up."

When the agent moved out of the way, Ianto helped push Jack upright, suppressing the instinct to gag when he slipped his hand under Jack's head and felt something warm, soft and squishy rub against the back of his hand, then moved behind him as Fury pulled him up. Ianto wrapped his arms around Jack's chest, hugging him close. His nose twitched at the smell of rotted fabric and blood, and he grimaced at the feel of the remaining dirt stiffened fabric against Jack's smooth skin.

Reality rushed in on Jack, forcing him to breath even though every instinct screamed against it. He opened his mouth and was surprised when he managed to get some air in before choking once again. He coughed, and the pain of that was something new, something that didn't fit.

He heard his name being shouted as someone grabbed his head and forced something into his mouth. Water. It was water!

He swallowed convulsively, then vomited the water, along with the dirt stuck in his throat, back out. He doubled over and realized he was being held. There was a sudden sharp pain in his arm and more water was forced down his throat, which came right back out, but after that, when he drew in a breath, it managed to fill his lungs.

He opened his eyes.

"Jack?!" Ianto could feel Jack's heart pounding rapidly as he struggled to breathe. Fury forced some water down Jack's throat. Jack gagged then threw up a slurry of muddy water. After the second time, Jack was finally able to draw in a breath.

He tightened his hold. "Jack?"

For a moment, Jack couldn't make sense of what was happening. Fury was kneeling in front of him, and he could hear Ianto's voice, but his mind kept telling him that wasn't right, that it should be...should be...

He curled forward and grabbed the arms that were holding him.

Who... who was he trying to remember?

"Jack?" He reached out as Jack curled over. "Jack, what--"

"Colonel!" Rasali leaned over the edge of the hole. "We're receiving reports of explosions throughout Cardiff. Satellite footage seems to indicate that they are strategic strikes- the city has been cut off!"

She looked down at her device. "SIGINT says they just lost their lock on the Cardiff match of the Captain's wristband."

"Gray." Jack looked up at Fury. "It's Gray. He's the one..." His voice trailed off and he looked away, unable to continue.

Fury recognized the look on Jack's face. It was the same look he'd had on his face after realizing how much he had failed his own brother. He nodded in understanding, but didn't have time to let Jack grieve about that.

"Think you can stand?"

Jack's not sure he can, but he doesn't want to stay here any longer either. "Yeah, I can." He's pulled to his feet. When he's finally stable, he turned to look behind him. Ianto is staring at him and looks as if he's barely holding himself in check. There's blood staining the fabric of his shirt and suit jacket, and his face is streaked with dirt. A cut-- covered with liquid stitches-- runs up into his hair. Jack reaches up and lightly touches the skin near the cut.

Jack's touch sends a shudder through Ianto. He closes his eyes and rests his cheek against the palms of Jack's hand, then wraps his arms around Jack, pulling him close, pressing his face against Jack's neck.

Jack rested in Ianto's embrace a moment, then turned his head, his lips brushing against Ianto's. Ianto caught the back of his head and kissed him, desperate and warm. A sob rose up in the back of Jack's throat and he closed his eyes tight against the memories-- of Ianto, of Gray, of the darkness that he had willingly gone into as his punishment for failing to protect his brother -- now flooding his mind.

Fury gave the two men a minute as he waited for Simpson to toss a blanket down, then said, "Okay, bad guys now, sex later." He held the blanket out to Jack.

Jack broke the kiss and grimaced as he looked at Fury. "It won't matter. By the time we get there, it'll be too late, Nick."

Fury gave Jack an exasperated look as he dug into his pocket and pulled out the dimensional slider device. "Got this and a change of clothes for you. Think we've got everything we need to crash this party."

Jack blinked then grinned in relief. You'd think by now I'd remember not to underestimate Nick Fury, Jack thought as he draped the blanket around his shoulders and started up the ladder.



Part 7
Jack slipped his coat on and stepped out of the office inside the mobile command center Fury had- thankfully- ordered on site along with the excavation crew. The office had been kitted out with a shower, which had given Jack a few moments to clean up and center himself. Running his fingers through his still wet hair, he barely noticed the agents busy at their monitors as he tried to keep his thoughts from wandering. He knew later that he was going to have to deal with all the emotions he was currently shoving into a box in the corner of his mind, but right now he needed to stay in the present.

As his hand dropped down and brushed over the Webley holstered at his hip, he wondered briefly if S.H.I.E.L.D kept a stash of his clothing on hand in case of emergencies like this but then remembered he was in New York where you can find just about anything. Being dressed as if nothing had happened helped him suppress the grief lurking in the back of his mind. He had failed his brother and he had no idea how to fix that.

Stepping out of the trailer, Jack immediately spotted Ianto. The Welshman was standing by an empty table and Jack could see that he had also had a chance to clean up and was now dressed in a new suit and tie though Jack could tell by the slight frown and shift of the shoulders to settle the back of his suit jacket into it's proper place that this outfit included a handgun as part of the package. Ianto gave him a tight smile and a nod. Jack returned the nod and looked around.

Shadows were stretching over the site as the excavation crew filled the hole back up. Jack quickly looked away and glanced up over the trees at the buildings rising up behind them. The sun was beginning to set behind the New York skyline, splashing large shadow stripes over the Park. A shudder ran through Jack; if he had been buried a block over, he might have ended up as part of the foundation of one of those skyscrapers.

"You set?" Jack turned then caught the slider device Nick tossed his way.

"Does it matter?" Jack asked as he set the device.

That got him a grim smile. "Nope."

"So," Ianto said, his voice cautious, "are you setting that to get us into the Hub before all this happened?"

"No," Jack answered as he locked the last setting in place. "That might just set off the Hub's alarm system. I don't want to warn Gray that we're here."

"That and crossing personal timelines can cause bad things to happen," Nick said in a knowing voice. Jack gave him a speculative look then shook his head.

He glanced at Ianto. "Ready?" Ianto nodded and rested a hand on Jack's shoulder. When Nick did the same, Jack activated the device.

There was a moment of displacement and a feeling of being trapped then Jack was gasping for air as the opening leading to the underground parking for the Millennium Centre popped into existence. It was dark, only the red glow of emergency lights visible, and Jack started taking a step forward when the click of a safety being thrown stopped him in his tracks.

Ianto spun around and reached behind him, but he too stopped when Nick snapped, "Should I point out shooting the boss is not a good career move, Janson?"

"Colonel Fury!" A woman dressed in a S.H.I.E.L.D. combat suit stood just inside the barrier blocking the entrance to the parking structure. As Janson holstered her weapon, Jack became aware of the various alarms going off around them- car, fire, police.

"Where's Brysk and Ericksen?"

Janson grimaced. "We were attacked by Weevils a few blocks out. We split up; they got the Weevils to chase them, and I kept going. We were unable to contact anyone at Torchwood but we were able to monitor their broadcast until a few minutes ago. We think they all made it back the Hub with the exception of Dr. Harper; he was heading for the Turnmill Nuclear Power Plant to try and keep it from going into meltdown."

"Great," Ianto muttered. Jack ignored him and started down the ramp, tapping his wristband to override the locks to the back door. Things were already spiraling out of control and he needed to get to his team. He refused to fail them too.

When Janson's flashlight flashed on the Torchwood SUV parked in front of the door, he paused. There were streaks of concrete dust graying the black surfaces of the vehicle, pieces of broken glass stuck in the hood openings, and a good sized dent in the passenger door. He looked over at Ianto and saw the worry slipping out of the box reflected back at him. Nick nodded and the flashlight clicked off.

They stood in place a few seconds to get used to the dim emergency lighting, then Jack carefully pushed the door open. The lighting was better in the corridor, but it still left several spots in shadow. They spread out with Jack in the lead. When the corridor began to bend, lowering the sight distance, Jack slowed and pulled out his revolver; there was something ahead of them that shouldn't have been there, but Jack couldn't tell if it was a danger or not.

Gesturing the others back, Jack inched forward, the Webley leading the way. When he reached the bend, Jack quickly cut across the corridor and swung the Webley over the space, only to realize that his target was already on the floor. Jack blinked, surprised, then quickly knelt down beside the bleeding figure.

"Mikel?"

The man gasped, his head jerking back as he stared up at Jack. Mikel was sprawled out where the wall met the floor; he was bleeding from a wound in his shoulder and one on the side of his head. Jack's heart clenched as Mikel grabbed his jacket and pulled him down. Up close Jack could see one of Mikel's pupils was blown.

"Gray," Mikel rasped out, "he's called the Weevil's...loose...they're loose in... Hub... They're..." Mikel struggled to say more, but with a sharp cry of pain, he curled up and struggled to draw in a breath.

Nick swore softly as he gently slipped behind his son and cradled him in his arms. Jack was about to pull away, but Mikel's hand tightened and he gave Jack a wild look.

"He wants to destroy you from the inside, Jack. He wants to destroy those you-" A shudder ran through Mikel and his eyes rolled up. The hand clutching Jack's jacket suddenly opened and Mikel slumped back, his breath rattling in his throat.

There was a chime of keys as Ianto pulled off the spares to the SUV and handed them to Janson. Jack met Nick's gaze.

"You need to find him before I do, Jack," Nick growled through clenched teeth. Jack nodded and stepped back as Nick shifted to gather Mikel up in his arms.

"I will." Jack watched Nick and Janson head back up the corridor then he looked at Ianto.

"Let's go."



Interlude- Nick Fury: Last Place You Want To Be

I've always hated waiting rooms, and this is the worst one yet. Can't blame the hospital for that- they're stuck running on emergency power which means I got nothing to do but stand here in the corner and watch the trauma team work on keeping my kid alive. They've already stripped him to the waist and shoved a tube down his throat. Had to hit him with the paddles two minutes after they got him on that table.Felt like forever for that damn even tone from the monitor to start beeping again.

Shouldn't be standing here, should be heading back to the Hub-- Jack's gonna need help dealing with Hart and Gray-- but I can't seem to pry myself out of this corner. Ain't like I haven't been through this before; lost count of how many vigils I've done waiting to see if someone I care for lives or dies. Still...

Damn.

That's my kid over there.

I close my eyes for a second and rest my head against the wall and when I open them find the head surgeon heading over. Guy looks uneasy; probably the last thing he wants to do tonight is hand over bad news to someone sporting a gun, but gotta give the guy credit, he sucks it up and gives it to me straight.

"We've stopped the bleeding but it's likely there's some internal trauma. We won't be able to tell until--" He scowls and runs his fingers through his hair and that's when I notice the guy's exhausted. A glance past him to the rest of his team confirms a sudden suspicion-- this is the day crew and they're probably running on fumes now; their replacements are probably all trapped in their homes and they ain't coming in til everyone's sure there's no more bombs waiting to go off, and the streets can be cleared of the Weevils Gray let loose on Cardiff.

"Right now, he's critical and we won't be sure how bad things are until we can get the power back on or when he comes to. If he comes to." He sighs and there's a weary shrug of a shoulder. "I'm sorry, that's the best I can give you right now; if he survives the night, he might have a chance."

I nod and thank him. The guy seems surprised by my reaction, but he's done everything he can and the kid's still breathing. I ain't gonna be the one to give him a hard time tonight.

A few orders to his team and he's off to the next crisis. Half the team goes with him, while the rest prep Mikel to move him to another room.

If he survives the night...

I finally push away from the wall. Nothing I can do here-- if I park myself by his bed till morning, I'll just get in the way, and might snap a few heads off; this lot don't need that right now. Stopping at the foot of the bed, I take what I hope will not be my last look at my son alive and breathing. Not much to see though; kid's got tubes stuck in him and sensor pads taped across his chest. Face is beginning to bruise up, and now I'm sure it wasn't a Weevil that took him down.

Forcing my hands to let go of the railing-- not sure when I grabbed it-- I take a deep breath and turn away. As soon as I step out of the room, Janson's at my side. I don't stop as I tell her to stay and monitor things and to call if anything changes. Outside in the parking lot, I get the keys to the Torchwood SUV from her and climb in. Turning on the emergency lights, I peel out of the lot and I don't give a damn if I'm breaking every speed limit between here and the Hub.

You better have dealt with your brother, Jack, cause if I find him, I'm gonna make him pay.
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