Title: The Queen's Magicians: The Concealed Ones (4/4)
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, the Doctor, others
Rating: Starts PG, but hey, it’s got Jack and Ianto in it
Disclaimer: Oh, please. If I owned them, would I let some of those idiots write the scripts? And if I were making any money off them, would I be where they could find me?
Summary: An apocalyptic cult is trying to hasten the end of the world but when Torchwood steps in, it finds much more than it expected. This takes the place of Dead Man Walking
Part one is here; Part two is here; Part three is here
Andras turned to Jack, one eyebrow climbing nearly to his hairline. “You forgot to tell us he was asleep.”
Jack shrugged. “A detail.”
“A considerable one,” Newman said, as he ran his hands lightly over Owen's body. “But you've always been one for taking long shots when it suits you.”
“How do you know that?”
Newman grinned at Jack. “What's my title?”
Andras snorted. “Did you really think that someone with your kind of power was going to be walking around without someone on his tail? Everyone has been watching you since the day you were born, brother mine.”
From his perch on the edge of Tosh's desk, Ianto saw Gwen and Andy nod to each other as if they'd had some suspicion confirmed. He couldn't stop himself from rolling his eyes at Jack's obvious surprise. Each and every one of the people in the room, human and not, understood Jack's importance – everyone except Jack himself.
“Can you wake him?”
Martha stood at the foot of the bed, following Neumann's movements as if trying to detect whatever energy emanated from the Angel's hands. The soft beeping of the machine monitoring Owen's vital signs remained steady. Ianto could tell the lack of change was driving her round the twist.
“Who is she?” Andras whispered. “Usually we get a bigger reaction from mortals.”
Into snickered. The fallen angel sounded much like Jack did when he was in one of his petulant moods. “Martha doesn't impress easily. She graduated medical school at twenty-three, then became a Companion, and topped it all off by saving the world.”
Andras actually seemed startled. “She's the one who conned Odin into drinking the waters of Lethe?”
“Want an introduction?”
The angel punched his arm. “I can arrange my own, thanks.” He strolled away to join Neumann at Owen's bedside. “Need help?”
“It would be easier with two of us,” the Nistarim said. “He's not fighting it, which is a blessing, but he can't quite find his way. The mortal side is finding it difficult to accept the change.”
“I can sympathise.” Andras placed his hands fingertip-to-fingertip with Neumann's. “Let's see about this.”
Ianto felt the energy build until he thought he could see lightning arc along the elegant fingers and into Owen's body. A faint smell of roses pervaded the air in the Hub; roses and something else he couldn't identify. He looked at the others. Andy had backed away as far as he could without leaving the room. He looked slightly green around the nose and mouth. Gwen was gripping her amulet and her eyes were huge and unfocused as she added her own prayers to whatever was happening. Tosh and Martha stood together, holding hands so tightly that their knuckles stood out under the skin. And Jack...
Jack just stood, motionless, the most beautiful statue Ianto had ever seen. Ianto wondered if Jack was having second thoughts, but after a moment he realized that Jack was holding himself ready in case he needed to act. Ianto looked around, calculating where he could do the most good if whatever woke up on the hospital bed wasn't Owen, and then moved quickly into position.
Nothing happened for what seemed like hours. Slowly the scent of roses intensified until it overwhelmed their sense of smell and they could taste it, thick and syrupy, in the back of their throats. Andy was crouching, arm across his face, trying to hold on to the contents of his stomach. Just as Ianto felt his gag reflex kick in, the smell suddenly disappeared and a blast of cold icy air blew across the Hub. At the same time, the medical sensors started beeping wildly.
“Somebody turn that fucking noisemaker off,” Owen groused, his voice rusty with disuse. “And could somebody help me sit up?”
Neumann and Andras barely got out of the way as Tosh launched herself at her lover. Owen caught her and held on tightly. Laughing, Andras waved his hand at the machine. The sudden silence was filled by Tosh's little giggle as Owen whispered in her ear. Ianto could see the blush running up her neck all the way to her hairline.
Owen looked past Tosh, scanning the room until he landed on Ianto. “Hey, Teaboy. Any chance of coffee?”
Ianto gave him his blandest look, then smirked. “Coming right up.”
He headed for the kitchen, humming under his breath. Setting the coffee machine to brew Owen's favorite French roast, he collected mugs, spoons, milk and sugar and put them on the largest tray. Digging around the cupboards he found a box of Owen's favorite chocolate biscuits and added them to the tray.
Once the coffee was ready, he headed back to the main floor. Everyone had settled down in the sitting area. Owen was ensconced in the large sofa with all the women hanging around him solicitously. Andy and Jack were taking the mickey while Neumann and Andras watched from the sidelines, grinning. The demon nearly jumped him as he reached them.
“Ianto! What is that delicious smell?”
“That is not possible. Coffee smells bitter and oily.”
Jack poured out a cup and handed it over. “Somebody else's maybe, but not Ianto's. Here. Try it.”
Andras sniffed at the steam then took a small sip. “Wow. Neumann has been pushing coffee and tea on me but I can't hold them down for long. This is actually...” he sipped again, “quite good.”
“Try it with a chocolate biscuit,” Tosh offered one. “It's an amazing combination.”
Andras followed her example and dunked his biscuit in the coffee before munching. “That is...”
The blare of the Hub alarms cut through his words. The noise was drowned out by an inrush of air that seemed to heat and expand as it traveled, blasting bits and pieces out of the wall tiles. It was filled with something that reminded Ianto of the strongest and oldest of tree magics, but it was tainted by the stench of lightning and burning leaves. It was the same thing he had smelled at Mermaid Quay, multiplied a thousand, a million times, and Ianto found his Senses nearly overwhelmed.
He moved without conscious thought, his mind and body automatically executing the emergency plan Jack had relentlessly drilled into all of them. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Gwen moving on her own path. As he passed the Rift monitors he slapped his hand down on the fail-safe switches, triggering a lockdown. He felt the deep thrum of the distress beacons; it meant Tosh had managed to signal the other stations that Torchwood Cardiff was under attack.
A second blast of air slammed into him, lifting him off his feet. He threw himself sideways into the niche under the stairs, barely avoiding crushing Gwen in the process. She was shaking, her eyes nearly turned all white. The sight made him shiver.
“Gwenie! Gwen, come back!”
“They're coming. The apostates, the betrayers. They bring hunger and disease, war and death.”
Ianto grabbed her shoulders and shook her. “Gwenie. Come back.”
She shuddered. Her eyes snapped back to normal. “Ianto?”
“Gwen, I need you to do something. You need to reach Myfanwy. Set her loose.” He thought for a moment. “Can you contact your Circle? ”
She nodded. “After Abbadon we took some emergency measures. Being that high up will help.”
Ianto touched her forehead. “I've given you as much protection as I can. They won't see you unless they're looking directly at you. Go. And Gwen... don't come back down. Remember what Jack says. If we're gone, the responsibility for all this is yours.”
She kissed his cheek and ran up the stairs, crouching, trying to avoid anyone's line of sight. Ianto waited until she had disappeared before turning back to the main floor. Jack was standing near the fountain, Neumann and Andras on either side. The angels had reverted to the form Ianto was familiar with from his childhood, elongated bodies wearing Roman tunics and sandals, wings nearly brushing the floor. Ianto noted absently that while Neumann's were the traditional snowy-white, Andras's wings shaded from palest pink to deepest coral. They held Roman short swords that gleamed with lambent fire.
Facing them across the floor were two others, one with rainbow colored wings and the other a blue so deep it shone with its own light. They were everything Ianto had been brought up to believe the highest servants of the Lord should be, but where love and forbearance should have been there was only implacable hatred.
“Tzaphqiel, Ariel,” Neumann seemed shocked into hesitancy. “Why, brothers?”
“The great experiment has failed,” the voice of the rainbow angel was a deep bell. “Time to end it.”
“Surely that is the Lord's business, not ours.”
The other angel laughed, and the sound made Ianto slap his hands over his ears. “He grows old and forgetful. Doddering about with his pet animals.”
Even Andras seemed shocked by the outburst. “Apostasy, Ariel? Blasphemy?”
“Speak not to us, betrayer!”
Now it was Andras who laughed. “At least I defied the Lord openly, brother. You skulk around behind his back!”
Rainbow wings flared outwards. “Time to end it, brother.”
Andras brought his sword towards his face in a formal fencer's salute. “As you wish.”
They moved towards each other. When the swords met, sparks fountained upwards and the sound of metal shook the Hub. Ianto felt compelled to watch, as if something was forcing him to bear witness, but a part of him fought to sake off the compulsion. He tried to turn his head towards the medical bay. Pain slammed into him and his stomach churned. He forced it away and reached for Jack, using his love as a wedge against the compulsion, pouring every memory, every emotion into his call.
He saw Jack turn towards him at the same time that the rainbow angel lunged, sword swinging in a wide loop towards Neumann. Jack managed to deflect the blow, but the sword still sliced deeply into the Watcher's neck where it met the shoulder. His unearthly scream made Ianto's knee's buckle.
Ariel threw himself away from Andras, laughing madly. “A true watcher is dead. And now it begins!”
“Not quite yet, apostate.”
Ianto swung around towards the voice. Owen stood in the steps leading from the medical bay. Except... it wasn't Owen, not really. Ianto dropped his wards and the Sight made him laugh out loud. Owen was there, but so was Miach, and Power ran through them, twinning them irrevocably.
Owen moved confidently past the angels, who drew away in obvious fear. He knelt at Neumann's side where the Nistarim lay cradled in Jack's arms. His hands moved over the Watcher in a way familiar to Ianto; it was Owen using his Healing talent to diagnose an injury. His eyes met Jack, and he shook his head.
Ariel laughed again and was about to speak, when a single flick of Owen's hand silenced him.
“Andras!” The repentant demon crouched down next to him. “Your brother and sponsor returns home to the Essence. Will you take his place?”
Andras stared at him, shocked into silence. Disbelieving, he looked at Jack, who gripped his shoulder encouragingly. He looked down at Neumann's body. He sighed. “I will.”
“No!” Ariel screamed, his voice thin and reedy, as if stripped of its angelic power. “This is not to be!”
“But it is.” Owen took Andras's hand. “I am bid to tell you that all Creation weeps this night, and yet there's also rejoicing, for one that was Lost has returned.”
“There is a mighty army behind us, ” the rainbow angel addressed Jack directly. “You cannot hope to stop us, but if you join us we shall protect those you protect. Beyond time, if that is your wish. You are one of us in the flesh.”
Jack shook his head. “There is nothing you can offer me that would tempt me. No matter who created me, I am human and I stand with my own.”
“Then next time I will kill you,” Ariel screeched.
“Next time you will try.” Jack dismissed them. “Ianto?”
Ianto ran down to him, barely noticing the angels vanishing. He got there in time to steady Andras as he stood up. The new Watcher smiled at him uncertainly.
“I don't know what to do.”
“You'll make it up as you go along,” Ianto grinned. “Just like your brother.”