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[personal profile] magicom
Title: The Mourning Doll - Final Part (4/4)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] magicom
Rating: Maybe PG for canon m/m relationship and some spookiness.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or any of its characters. No money being made.
Paring/Characters: Jack/Ianto with some Gwen, Owen and Tosh.
Spoilers: Mild spoilers for TW S 1&2 and DW S3 finale.
Summary: As a whole: Torchwood find an alien artifact that leads to some spooky goings-on. This part: Resolution.
Warnings: None to speak of.
Notes: Takes place sometime during the first half of series 2.

“Human,” Ianto repeated, as though he were trying out the word for the first time. He narrowed his eyes at Jack. “How can it be human?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Jack said a little testily. He couldn’t have all the answers. He looked at Ianto suddenly. “Unless…” He glanced over to where the life energy seemed to be making lazy circles around the doll. “Look, we don’t know if it came through the Rift or if it came from a ship that crashed… but maybe it was empty when it was found.”

Ianto took up the line of reasoning. “If someone died near it…”

“It would absorb their life energy automatically. That’s what it was designed to do.”

“The old man?” Ianto suggested.

Jack shook his head. “Too recent.”

Ianto frowned. “What does that have to do with it?”

“It’s not damaged,” Jack explained. “They’re not designed to hold a life force forever, but they have to be durable enough to be in working order for someone’s entire lifespan, then hold the soul long enough to get it back to the Prane system inside a probe. Depending on which of the colonies it had to come from, that journey could last ten or even twenty years.”

“So you’re saying that the soul escaped because the technology just… wore out?”

“Exactly,” Jack confirmed.

“That means we’re looking for someone who died at least twenty years ago.” He stepped past Jack to Tosh’s computer and began a search of all the databases they had access to. He pulled up all the information he could find on the dead man whose house the box had come from. It seemed to Jack that he was looking for something specific. He turned to Jack triumphantly when he found it. “His wife died twenty-eight years ago,” he said, pointing at the screen. “She was only fifty years old. Cancer.”

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “It could be her,” he agreed.

“It is her,” Ianto said, thoroughly convinced. “What are we going to do?”

Jack shook his head. “We won’t have to do anything,” he told Ianto softly.

Ianto looked at him sharply. “What do you mean?”

“She’s dissipating,” Jack answered. He nodded towards the swirling energy. It was clearly less powerful than it had been when they were in the archives. “The only thing holding her together is residual electrical energy from the device. A sort of electrostatic current. That’s why she makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when she’s close. She has a static charge. It’s running out. When it’s gone… she’ll be gone.”

Ianto looked over at the little energy vortex. “Can’t we help her?” he asked sadly.

“And then what?” Jack asked. “When the body gives out, people die. The life force dissipates. It’s natural. Even if we could find a way to preserve her life energy, it would be a prison. It would be cruel.” He put his hand on Ianto’s sleeve. “Sometimes helping someone means letting them go,” Jack told him gently, then immediately winced. He hadn’t meant to be talking about Lisa, but, when it came right down to it, it was impossible to broach the subject of death and immortality between them without directly referencing the fact that Jack could never die and Lisa had had to.

Ianto nodded slowly, then sat down on the metal steps that led up to the next level and watched the life energy swirl around the doll until it was gone. Jack considered getting him to do something besides stare at the poor woman’s prolonged death throes, but he knew there was no point. Ianto was sitting vigil and he wouldn’t be moved before it was over. He always took these sorts of things to heart. When she was gone, Jack watched him get up and walk down to where he’d dropped the box. He picked it up, retrieved his torch from where it had been knocked to the floor and walked towards the lower levels. Jack didn’t follow him – not yet.

+++++

Ianto Jones sat at his desk in the Torchwood archives looking at an old photograph in a small album. It was a photograph of the man whose life he’d been dissecting earlier that evening. He was wearing a suit and had his arm around the waist of a pretty woman in a white dress. They were outdoors and she was laughing. A metallic box sat near Ianto’s elbow, a small figure nestled inside, but he ignored it. He looked at the smiling faces in the photo album. He didn’t know why; he didn’t even know these people. It didn’t, however, seem fair to him that the woman in the white dress had passed away two years before he was born and he’d still had to watch her die.

He heard Jack coming the moment he walked into the archive; the floor was still covered in glass. It crunched under Jack’s boots, the sound echoing in the cavernous archives, all the way from the door to Ianto’s desk. He didn’t turn around and he soon felt the warmth of Jack’s hand on his shoulder. He looked up. Jack gave him an affectionate smile, then looked at the album that sat open on the desk. He picked it up and thumbed through it.

“Is this how you knew to look for the wife?”

Ianto nodded.

“This was on your desk when we were down here before,” Jack observed as he closed the album and looked at the cover. His face was carefully neutral. “You didn’t throw it away.”

“Didn’t seem right,” Ianto told him, his eyes flicking away from Jack’s steady gaze. “Not that it’s… the paper’s not archival quality,” he explained. “Those old albums never are. Acid and lignin.” He shrugged with a sort of forced indifference to counter the fact that that thought had crossed his mind not once, but twice. “It will eat the photographs, eventually,” he finished quietly. He took the album back from Jack and set it on his desk. “I thought someone might want it,” he added, almost as an afterthought. He hadn’t intended to admit that part. Jack would ask him who and he would have to answer that he didn’t know… but Jack didn’t ask him anything. He glanced over at the metallic box. “What about that?” Ianto asked, glad to change the subject to something more work-related. “Do I mark it dangerous?”

Jack shook his head. “Not anymore. It’s been used. It’s burned out. It’s just a decoration now.”

Ianto nodded and made a notation on the front of the plastic bag that lay beside it. He knew Jack was watching him write – he did it all the time. Ianto put his pen down and looked up. “I’ve got an extra monitor in storage for Tosh’s station,” he reported, “but it’s going to take some time to replace all the lights down here. We’re talking about hundreds of fluorescent tubes…”

“Nevermind,” Jack told him, cutting him off, and his tone left little room for argument. “It can wait. It’s four in the morning. Come to bed.”

Jack had extended his hand and Ianto looked at it for a moment before taking it and allowing Jack to pull him to his feet. They walked hand in hand over the broken glass and Ianto vaguely thought that there must be a metaphor in there somewhere, but he was too tired to look for it.

Everything ended in death at Torchwood, even ghosts. Everything except Jack. Ianto lay with his head on Jack’s chest and let the steady sound of Jack’s heartbeat lull him to sleep.

+++++

The End. Would love to know what you think!

In case you missed them and want to catch up:

"Part One"
"Part Two"
"Part Three"
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